Charity begins at home for recession-stricken Italians
Charity Auitare i bambini allows Italians to 'adopt' children to make sure they have enough to eat
Italy’s better-off citizens are by now accustomed, like the rest of Europe’s chattering classes, to the concept of “adopting” a child in poverty stricken Africa.
But after the most brutal recession in living memory, charity is now starting closer to home for some Italians, with hundreds choosing to offer vital financial assistance to local children, rather than youngsters in the Third World.
Despite being based in one of the world’s richest countries, the Milan charity Auitare i bambini (Help the Children), has revealed how 400 local infants have been “adopted” in the past six months by concerned citizens who want to ensure that impoverished compatriots have enough to eat and have a place in nursery.
The group’s spokesman Alex Gusella said: “Since the charity was founded in 2000 we’ve been helping people ‘adopt’ infants from afar in countries in Africa and Asia. Then last year we said: ‘Why not allow people to offer the same help to babies in this country?’ Unfortunately Italy is one of the European countries in which levels of child poverty are highest.”
Auitare i bambini has established links with seven nurseries around Italy, from Piemonte in the north to Sicily in the far south. Patrons are able to sponsor a baby aged from six months to three years old in any of the seven establishments, thereby ensuring the nursery fees are paid and they are fed properly. “The main point is this allows the mothers to go out and work,” Mr Gusella told The Independent.
Demonstrators clash with riot police during a protest near the Italian parliament in Rome (Getty Images) The development shows how Italy, Europe’s centre of fashion, fine dining and football, suffers from pernicious wealth inequality. And it underlines the gravity of the economic problems facing the country as the new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi promises radical measures to kickstart its moribund economy, which has seen youth employment soar to 40 per cent. The level of women working in Italy is only about 50.5 per cent, among the worst in Europe.
Earlier this month, figures from the government revealed how one Italian household in four is facing serious financial hardship. According to the report titled “Noi Italia” by the national statistical agency Istat, 24.9 per cent of households in 2012 were in a situation of “deprivation”, meeting at least three of the agency’s nine poverty criteria.
These include the inability to meet unexpected expenses, falling behind in loan payments or being unable to afford a meal with a high-protein content at least once every two days.
Sonia Pedretti, the head of the nursery assisted by Auitare i bambini in Marcheno, near Brescia, said she was delighted by the arrival of “adoption close to home” scheme. “In this area, the economic situation has deteriorated with crisis in the steel industry,” she told Gente magazine.
“Very often the families aren’t able to pay the nursery fees. Last year we had only six babies. Now with the adoption scheme we have 14.”
Experts have been warning for the past few years of a child poverty crisis in Italy. Giacomo Guerrera, the president of the Italian branch of Unicef, said last summer that the extent of the problem in his country was “extremely alarming”. “Some countries are doing much better than others to protect the most vulnerable. Since the situation in Italy is not improving, action is needed,” he said.
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
- 2 Scottish referendum results: David Cameron set to unveil major devolution of powers to England
- 3 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 4 Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Scottish independence results live: Reunited kingdom - Scotland gives a clear 'No' in historic referendum
Scottish referendum results: David Cameron set to unveil major devolution of powers to England
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Scottish independence: YouGov final prediction puts No campaign 8 points ahead - but Yes team remains optimistic
Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Negotiable: Randstad Education Leicester: Are you a Newly Qualified Teacher lo...
£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Part Time Primary TeacherOur...
£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: The Job:School Science Technici...
£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Long term SIMS School Administr...