- (EMMAUS ITALIA)
Welcoming those in need, self-financing, the struggles against the mafia and against poverty. Emmaus Palermo was created to bring together social anti-mafia action and the struggle against poverty into a single vision of sustainable and dignified social and human development, in contrast to the current dominant economic system and the closure of borders.
The economic and social context is one of a wonderful land ruined by a politico-mafioso-Masonic power system that over the years has erased basic rights, such as the right to education, the right to an effective healthcare system and the right to conduct business. In Palermo, the mafia has killed hundreds of honest business owners, journalists, magistrates, policemen, trade unionists, free men and women. After the mafia massacres of 1992, there was a moment of awakening in Palermo’s collective conscience. Today, thanks to the young people who were children in 1992, various new movements have been launched: activism, association building, social enterprise and anti-mafia practices that are demonstrating how the mafia can be fought and eliminated through the simple, responsible behaviour of all citizens on a daily basis. Emmaus Palermo is active above all in the most peripheral contexts and in those that are neglected by the authorities. Palermo and Sicily score highest in many of Europe’s negative rankings (for example the early school-leaving rate, the proportion of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs), or the alarming data on youth unemployment and on relative and absolute poverty ).
Thousands of poor families in Palermo live off the collection of iron or used material; it was important to make it clear that the establishment of Emmaus in the city would not threaten those who use the second-hand market for informal work. That is why we strive every day to make it clear that our work is not intended to compete with others, but rather to help everybody in need.
Palermo is a symbolic city, the capital of the Mediterranean, rich in history and different cultural traditions. More than any other region of Italy, this city experiences the drama of the migrant arrivals and the difficulties in welcoming thousands of young people who are fleeing war and persecution in Africa. Unfortunately, the Sicilian and Nigerian mafias have made pacts of friendship and collaboration at Ballarò, which means that those who work with migrants have a duty to keep the young people arriving here at a distance from these soliciting networks that control drug trafficking and street prostitution.
Emmaus Palermo was given a building that was confiscated from the mafia in the Vergine Maria neighbourhood. In the past, this neighbourhood was controlled by the Galatolo mafia family (famous for their diplomatic abilities in making ties with politicians and the secret services). The Galatolo also control the Fiera del Mediterraneo exhibition centre, which houses the solidarity-based second-hand market in Pavilion 3. There is great interest in Pavilion 3, which is occupied by Emmaus Palermo, because it is the biggest pavilion in the exhibition centre. Over the course of one year, we have had seven cases of damages, break-ins, clear intimidation, and theft from the market. We are also subject to a daily boycott by the porters at the entrance gate, who do not allow our clients’ vehicles to enter the centre. Despite this, the market still functions and allows us to welcome eight companions.
Unfortunately, Palermo city council would like to use Pavilion 3 for commercial purposes. It is vital for us to remain inside the centre, which is why we are looking for financing in order to rent it and to carry out work to secure it and make it fit for purpose.