MH ROSARNO - PIANA DI GIOIA TAURO
The project in Calabria of Mediterranean Hope (MH) - Refugee and Migrant Program of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) has been involved since 2019 in support, information, mediation and advocacy for seasonal workers employed mainly in the Piana di Gioia Tauro. In an area that is among the most impoverished in Italy, where the presence of organized crime is very strong, the development of citrus production has attracted thousands of migrant labourers who live in a situation of extreme vulnerability, in terms of both labour and housing. Low wages, exploited labour, traffic accidents, and difficulties in accessing regularization processes and integration into the service network are the main problems to be addressed.
The focus of MH's action is defending the rights of all people, without distinction between migrants and locals. Widespread planning with associations and cooperatives in the area, developed on the basis of the needs detected, is the main tool with which it operates, also promoting - with the "Etika" brand - a fair trade chain of citrus production, to guarantee fair wages and rights for workers.
In 2022, MH also set up a social hostel in San Ferdinando (RC) called 'Dambe So' - which means 'House of Dignity' in the Bambara language. The hostel is designed to be an eco-solidarity house that accommodates labourers during the citrus season and supports solidarity tourism routes during the summer. In a context where the majority of labourers work without protection and live in uncomfortable conditions - with interference from organised crime, the spread of the phenomenon of illegal recruitment, extreme and inhuman working conditions, wages below minimum wages, environmental and housing degradation - Dambe So is able to host in safety, dignity and legality immigrant and seasonal workers who contribute to housing costs with a sustainable rent. Part of Dambe So's costs are therefore supported by its own residents’ contributions.Other financing comes from the sale of ‘Etika’ -branded solidarity oranges developed in collaboration with the SOS Rosarno association and the Mani e Terra cooperative. In 2022 alone, the campaign to collect solidarity citrus products allowed the distribution of over 100,000kg of Etika-branded oranges, involving many Italian and foreign churches, solidarity purchasing groups and associations . The hostel wants to be a model that supersedes the logic of ghettos and is potentially replicable in other territories with greater housing crises