The Migrants’ Village

The Middle East is erupting and although everyone cheers for the people’s thirst and hunger for real democracy, the revolts shake the entire world.
Even France and Italy clash on how to handle the recent flux of young men arriving from Tunisia.
Since immigration is a hot topic across the world, I find inspiring to read a different article on the subject in the French paper Le Monde.

The small village of Riace, tucked away in Calabria, the big toe of the Italian boot, was slowly dying. The young people had left for big cities and even for countries as far as Australia and Canada. With no hope in the future, Riace was a name fading on a map.
But in 1998, a boat, loaded with 300 Kurds, reach the rugged coast of Riace. The villagers, led by their mayor Dominico Lucano, don’t hesitate and open their village to the refugees.
Since then, Riace has welcomed men, women and children from countries such as Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Libya.
Empty houses have been cleaned to host the families and the streets now resonate with children’s laughter.
In the village, the new comers are sometimes hard to spot. Many have blended effortlessly among the locals. The children speak Italian with the accent of Calabria and consider Riace their home. The elderly call them the grandchildren they don’t have.
Immigration documents are slow to obtain, so meanwhile, the immigrants learn the trades of Calabria and work in ateliers either as seamstresses, potters, carpenters or glass blowers. The goal is to keep them busy but also to welcome back the regional craft that had deserted Riace. Some immigrants have even opened their own small shop.
Grants have been filled and money is expected in Riace to help the village’s unique approach. Until then, temporary money with the faces of Ghandi, Martin Luther King or Che Guevara replacing the Euro, travels through the village. When the grant’s money arrive, the shop owners will be paid with real money.
Riace or the dying village is now called “the migrants’ village.”
A few neighboring villages have started to imitate Riace.
Of course, Riace has agreed to welcome the Tunisians.
Human beings can be so inspiring.

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