ADRA Italy - For the sake of the weakest

ADRA Italy - For the sake of the weakest


Gravina in Puglia, Bari, Italy [CD-EUDNews]. Gravina in Puglia is a city in southern Italy, rich in history and tradition and bases its economy mainly on agricultural resources. Unfortunately, this region is also affected by the economic crisis and many f

September 01, 2013 | Corrado Cozzi, CD EUDNews;

Gravina in Puglia, Bari, Italy [CD-EUDNews]. Gravina in Puglia is a city in southern Italy, rich in history and tradition and bases its economy mainly on agricultural resources. Unfortunately, this region is also affected by the economic crisis and many families are facing serious financial difficulties. Such situations aggravate family tensions that often result in domestic violence. Those who suffer the most are the weakest members, among these children. For them, often the solution is living on the streets, but the company they keep does not promote a correct behaviour.

Unfortunately, government help is not enough to control this problem and enlisting volunteers seem to be the only hope.

In the town of Gravina di Puglia is an ADRA centre (Adventist Development Relief Agency) housed in the adjacent rooms of the Adventist church.

ADRA Italy is a non-profit organization. It promotes and encourages socially beneficial programs in public assistance and charity, in cooperation and development of culture and education, in health and protection of nature and the environment, as well as welfare programs for the socially discriminated.

ADRA activities depend on volunteers and is present in all countries where intervention is needed, specifically in developing countries without distinction of politics, religious faith, class or race.

In Gravina in Puglia this agency contributes to social and humanitarian aid. In particular, it offers education programs and after-school support, health and hygiene, food distribution programs, self defence, support and recovery for maladapted children and assistance for the homeless.

ADRA workers offer assistance in different ways, such as collection and distribution of clothing, food distribution to families who have no source of income and support for mothers with children reported by social services. But what distinguishes the activities the most is the commendable work in favour of children in families at risk.

"We managed to get school and family guardianship of ten children who are at great risk," said Bridget Laterza, head of the restoration project, a former art teacher at junior high school. She is known for organizing cultural programs in Gravina, giving young people some of the most important roles. The project is supported by two staff ADRA volunteers, Lydia and Eva Ventura.

"In practice, the plan is that we come into partnership with the schools and teachers of children we have in custody for the afternoons," said Laterza "and during the activities carried out in our premises we offer care and daily assistance for extracurricular activities (catechism, afternoon rides, homework, sports, games, etc.). We also offer meals with health and hygiene education. When necessary we take them to a dental clinic or any other needed appointments. "

To run the business and to achieve the ADRA objectives we have 11 volunteers including a professional teacher, a registered social worker, a psychologist, auxiliary assistance and Adventist Pastor Stephen Calà, who looks after scouting activities.

"The children come from poor families, so we also provide school clothes for each child (from textbooks to backpack, from pencils to notebooks, etc.)," ​​confirms Laterza.

By offering food service, the intention is to give nutrition education (to address deficiencies in the family). Food preparation follows a strict eating plan, but it is not easy to re-educate these children to the basics of healthy eating.

"To ensure that the children come to our ADRA premises after school, I have made my car available," says Lidia Ventura, with dedication and patience finding the streets of the town of Gravina and taking the children directly to their homes.

All this during the school year.

Summer holidays last at least two months in Italy. What happens to these children once out of school? "When we met as volunteers to discuss this possibility, we said that it would be a shame to 'abandon' these children for two months," said the team social worker, and along with other volunteers decided to spend their summer holidays continuing to assist their young companions. The program is quite attractive.

The service is offered daily from June to August, from 3.30 to 8.00 p.m. During this time the children are busy with summer school, activities for improvement and research, games, computers etc. Periodically guided tours are offered to the children to acquaint them with regional and neighbouring places of cultural and natural interest.

"We stayed at the beach and we saw how they produce salt," said a little girl pleased to have made some wonderful discoveries. "We like to play here," said another child, "even if they are serious and we have to obey them," he continues, but does not seem displeased.

These children have an uncertain future. They are children from 6 to 12 years old. In their young age they are already acquainted with a hostile, violent and insecure reality. Like all children they have dreams to be pilots, football heroes, doctors, etc. What would become of them without the intervention of ADRA Gravina volunteers, we could not even imagine. For the time being everyday they are under the guidance of these "angels". The children will always remember these days of care and affection, they will never forget what they are receiving now.

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