Why do we travel with IAFR?
Kaylee has been mentored and encouraged in her work with refugees by Tom Albinson, founder and director of IAFR, over the last four years. Our vision for this initial trip, as well as the long-term potential for ministry work with refugee and local churches in Italy, aligns really well with that of IAFR. We have had several Skype meetings with Paul Sydnor who is the IAFR EU representative and will be our trip leader. The calls have been inspired and encouraging.
Here is the history of IAFR and Italy:
Italy, Refugees & IAFR
Italy is the crossroads for
refugees coming from the Middle East and Central Asia through Turkey
and Greece as well as for refugees crossing the Mediterranean. Although
there are no official numbers, Italy has likely surpassed Greece in the
amount of refugees who arrive and who are in the country as unregistered
asylum seekers. As of June 2011, more than 40,000 have arrived on
Lampadeusa alone. Many of these refugees will look for work in the
south, along with other migrant workers. Many will settle in the large
cities like Naples and Milan and most will always pass through Rome.
There are also many who return to Italy from other parts of Europe, when the doors are closed. In general there is not a reliable system for refugees in Italy. After the initial stay in a centre many are released onto the streets with no system to help them.
Tom Albinson (IAFR director) and Dan Thompson (IAFR board member) made the first exploratory trip to Italy in 2004. The aim at that time was to begin a refugee ministry in Italy under International Teams. As workers in International Teams, at that time, we chose to focus our efforts on Rome. I began visiting Rome in 2005, returning there 5 or 6 times over the next several years, in order to research the refugee situation and build our understanding of refugees in the city. These visits culminated finally in helping the Uthmann's to settle and begin their ministry in Rome.
Some of the people we will visit are from those years of previous research. Leonardo De Chirico has headed the Italian EA's response to the current crisis and he has sent out several pleas for assistance from the outside. Italy is a strategic place for refugees in Europe, and we want to explore how and what our role might be among refugees in Italy.