A new video project in Italy, entitled "Quarantine Diaries" allows unaccompanied migrant children and young adults in Rome to recount their emotions and feelings during the coronavirus lockdown. The project was the culmination of a video course given by editors at the Italian online intercultural magazine Piùculture.
During months of quarantine in Italy, Mohamed rediscovered the sound of birdsong and understood that "prevention is better than cure." Yakouba experienced a different, but no less meaningful, Ramadan. Reda understood even more strongly the value of freedom, while Anita felt even closer to her family.
These are just some of the people featured in "Quarantine Diaries", a video made by young people after attending a course in audio, video, and photographic social communication titled "No Fear," financed by the 8x1000 tax contributions given to the Waldensian Church.
The course, which took place from fall 2019 to the middle of June 2020, allowed unaccompanied foreign minors and those who had just turned 18 in Rome to participate. At the end of the course, they received a certificate of participation that they can put on their CVs.
Stories and emotions
"I never would have thought that the streets would be empty like the desert," Mohamed said in his video. A 19-year-old from Mali, he uses drawing to relate his emotions. He dedicated some drawings to his mother and all mothers for Mother's Day on May 8. "Mom, I don't know where you are, but you're my strength," he wrote under one of his drawings.
"In this time, I got even closer to my relatives, because I was afraid of losing them," said Anita, a 19-year-old Iraqi. "The most important word for me is 'family'," she added.
Mouctar, Dabi, Yacouba, Mohamed, Maurizio, Ali, Reda, Anita - all of them are between the ages of 16 and 19 and come from Mali, Ivory Coast, Iraq, and Morocco. In the majority of cases, the young people disembarked in Sicily or the Puglia region in Italy after a difficult journey that they faced alone, leaving their families of origin behind.
They all live in Rome, in group homes or centers for the protection of minors and refugees. The workshop took place every Saturday morning at the offices of Piùculture in Rome, and, during the lockdown, on the platform Meet. The initiative aimed to encourage the young peoples' desire to learn Italian, and get training in order to be able to find work, but above all it wanted to enable them to tell their stories.
The search for an identity
"To get them involved, given that with the lockdown our course was interrupted in the final stages, we decided to create a competition to motivate them, giving them 'games' with audio, photo, and video clip contests," Lucio Perotta, the course's filmmaker, told ANSAmed.
"A foreign young person who arrives in Italy almost doesn't know who they are anymore, they have to learn the rules, social constructs, and prejudices. This course gave them the chance to express themselves, to say that they aren't passive people, but alive, with an identity. We tried to make that identity emerge through the story of the quarantine, which often went together with a story that was already one of fear.Some of them have very troubled stories," Perotta said.
"These young people find themselves [automatically designated a social status], they are 'people who live in a (reception) center.' For young people of their age, these are decisive years. If they don't develop the ability to feel alive, then it's difficult, because integration isn't easy," he said.
Perotta added that there are many similar projects like No Fear going on in Italy, "but they are silent, they don't make headlines. Many people work in silence, involving these young people, taking them from a state of sadness and helping them bloom. These experiences are essential, because through them the young people find the strength to get involved [in society]," he said.
If you would like to watch some of the videos you can find Mohamed's video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xR0Bt6CmehY
And Anita's video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBbML8G0kMk