From cooking to language classes, the many ways to achieve integration

Here are associations and projects of PartecipAzione: a programme for the inclusion of refugees in Italy promoted by INTERSOS and UNHCR



There are Italian classes for Ukraine mothers and children and reproductive health classes for Afghan women who have fled their country. Moreover, there are cooking workshops for refugee women, a work desk for LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers, a cultural center for laborers, and a new organization to give representation to the stateless community. These are some of the projects developed by the ten winning associations of the fifth edition of PartecipAzione, the program promoted by INTERSOS together with UNHCR Italy to promote the integration of refugee people into the economic, social, and cultural life of our country. Each of these associations shows us a different way to reach the same goal: the inclusion of refugees and asylum seekers living in Italy.


SUPPORT UA CHILDREN – With the outbreak of the war in Ukraine and the massive influx of refugees in Italy, the Milan-based Support U A Children association has implemented several projects to support people fleeing the conflict. The project funded by PartecipAzione is called “A hug in wartime” and its aim is to foster integration starting with language learning, offering Italian courses for adults and children. To help overcome the trauma of the war, it organizes psychological support groups and training courses for cultural mediators and families who host refugees. Recreational courses for adults and children (art, music, and theater) have also been realized to ease the wounds of war.


DONNE DELL’EST – The organization Donne dell’ Est is another one that is interested in the Ukraine situation, and it has been working for more than 20 years in Naples. The project is explained by the title “Gostynnist: networks for the reception of Ukrainian refugees in Italy.” The aim is to lay the foundations for safe hospitality, even before arriving in our country, through the creation of reliable information channels. For this reason, a website and social channels are available – in Ukrainian, Russian and Italian – to orient outgoing people on the services they are entitled to in Italy (such as housing, health care, and school placement), as well as on the dangers to which they are exposed along the journey and after the arrival, to prevent phenomena of exploitation, trafficking, and grooming.


ASSOCIAZIONE DONNE PER LE DONNE (ASDD) – A year after the Taliban took Kabul, a group of Afghan women who fled their country founded the association. This organization aims to be a platform of network for female refugees scattered along the Peninsula and promote their integration into society. To do so, the “Happy Family Program for Refugees from Afghanistan” – this is the name of the selected project – focuses on reproductive health and family planning as tools for women’s empowerment. For this purpose, the association organizes online and in-person meetings about conscious birth control. Moreover, a website is also available to provide legal advice and information on employment and training opportunities in English and Dari.


UNIONE ITALIANA APOLIDI (UNIA) – The name of the project – “Giving voice to the invisible stateless” – is a manifesto and recalls the mission for which the association was founded in Rome: to ensure a formal representation for the fragmented community made up of those who have not citizenship in our country. A website and social channels, through which promotional content (videos, interviews, pamphlets) are disseminated, have been created to inform and raise awareness. The ambition is to become a point of reference in meetings with institutions.


MOVIMENTO OMOSESSUALE SARDO (MOS) – The advocacy for LGBTQIA+ refugees started ten years ago with the first Migrant Desk by the historic Sardinian organization, and it continues to consolidate. “Link” is the project selected by PartecipAzione. The target is people forced to flee their country for reasons related to sexual orientation and gender identity. The aim is, on the one hand, to provide the skills needed to achieve economic autonomy through employment guidance services and training counseling. On the other hand, it promotes inclusion and coexistence thanks to creative pathways developed within a participatory video workshop.


IL GRANDE COLIBRÌ – The voluntary organization that defends the rights of LGBTQIA+ people is betting on digital. The technology breakthrough is reported in the title – “The hummingbird’s nest 2.0” – and involves the creation of a database, integrated with the pre-existing website, of people willing to host LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers and refugees or rent rooms and apartments. The intention is to start in Piacenza, the project headquarters, and then gradually cover the whole country.


ORIGENS – the project proposed by the Bari-based association is based on food as a vehicle of knowledge and cultural exchange. “Momo – Let’s take refuge in the kitchen” offers 12 refugee women a basic course in multiethnic cooking and food hygiene (HACCP), within the Social Multiethnic Bistrot, in the heart of the city. In each module, there are experienced trainers, supported by language mediators. At the end of the course, the aspiring chefs obtain HACCP certification and acquire the basic tools to work in catering. Moreover, the two most deserving ones also are given the opportunity to do an internship in a restaurant in the city.


IN CAMMINO CON GUSTAMUNDO “Interfood” is another project for refugee women, it’s an ethnic and fair-trade pastry workshop promoted by the Rome-based association. Having completed the pastry and food hygiene course, the desserts baked by the cooks are offered to restaurants in Rome to “adopt” one and include it on their menus. The goal is to encourage job placement and economic independence. The kitchen is the place of redemption for those forced to flee their country.


SOTTO IL BAOBAB – The association of laborers founded in 2018 in Canelli, Piemonte, to give a voice to seasonal farmworkers, is becoming more inclusive. The project selected by PartecipAzione – “Female braiding” – aims to give visibility to the demands of women to help them overcome the isolation in which they are sometimes relegated. For this reason, a cultural circle is intended to host seminars on reproductive health issues, courses on childcare and family budget management, and guidance on social and health services in the area where it has been created.


STRA VOX – Young people with migrant backgrounds in Palermo are the protagonists of the project proposed by the association of volunteers founded 2 years ago in Ballarò neighborhood. For refugees, asylum seekers, and those who are outside the host circuits, an information desk has been created in the city center that provides legal services, employment, and volunteer opportunities. The name given to the project is evocative: “My voice in the community”. The purpose of the service is to give support to achieve autonomy and economic independence.

Flavia Melillo
Flavia Melillo