Italy has been repeatedly in the news for racism lately. The African workers in Italy – be it in vegetable plantations in Southern Italy or elsewhere – are one of the main targets of the Italian xenophobia.
Hardly any Italians would tell you that the workers coming from the far South are good for the country – even if none of them would like to do the jobs the Africans do. A very contrary view is the following: Antonello Vangano last year published a book with the illustrative title: Gli Africani salveranno L’Italia (The Africans will save Italy). In his book he describes from an economical and historical point of view how it is with the strangers who in Italy voice up against mafia and other criminal organizations, and who Italians have long come to accept.
Italy gets a hand from the Southern neighbours also in another field. The NGO Poveri Voi stands for Poor You and says about itself that they export humaneness – a good which in Italy has become scarce – while it is still abundant in Africa. The people behind Poveri Voi say the project was born as an outcry, an act of provocation with aims to bring attention to a growing problem in Italy: dehumanization. Most outstanding their campaign: “Adopt a young Italian“. Describing young Italians who desperately need help; kids which have never learned how to smile since they were left in front of TV all their life; young girls dreaming of becoming famous and ready to do anything to make it possible; or young adults which do nothing more than working.
Eventually, the project became much more than that. Today, Poveri Voi combines different efforts of bringing people closer together again; of reinstating values like trust, altruism and courage. The different programmes which are part of the NGO promote cultural events which bring people together, Fair Trade, sustainable development and help street artists to success. Besides, Poveri Voi gives Italians the opportunity to spend time in Africa. From three weeks to three months people are accomodated in a village and with a family and take part in the daily life of the community. An encounter which should help people remember some basic values lost in the European lifestyle. They clearly show how the stay abroad is helping the Italian, not the Africans (which stands in big contrast to the business of helping). We are all poor in some way.