Culture becomes an instrument for creating community, in the project that the association Time for Africa he promoted in his hometown, Udine. The initiative has already been tested in recent months but is officially starting this September. The key to relating people are cultural supports at a distance, through which one family “adopts” another – in particular children – to make them live experiences at the theater, cinema or other events in the area. “The aim is to create bonds,” he says Umberto Marinpresident of the association, “uniting families and supporting social cohesion”.
This project has deep roots, which date back to 2019; in fact, since then Time for Africa has been working in two districts of Udine, considered, in the common opinion, “dangerous”. The first is Borgo Stazione, a place of arrivals and departures, where the administration of the mayor Fontanini has increased the presence of the police precisely because of concerns about public order. The second is the Aurora district, a kind of dormitory, where 4500 people live – of which 16% are foreigners – but there is a lack of cultural and recreational services. “We have helped to create networks of local associations”, continues Marin, “and to activate collaborations with social services, to organize events and create participation paths with the inhabitants of the place”.
Time for Africa’s commitment in these neighborhoods, therefore, has resulted in various generative welfare projects. The volunteers of the association, however, immediately became aware of a fundamental need of families in difficult situations, which goes beyond material support: the need to build relationships and friendships, to be participants and actors in the daily life of the community. Hence the idea of using culture as a key to bringing people together. “The fight against educational poverty must not be delegated only to the schools and social services of the Municipality”, the president comments, “it must also be a shared responsibility of the inhabitants of the city, who can become a help for their fellow citizens who live in reality more complex and less stimulating “.
Those who decide to make themselves available for cultural adoption must undertake to participate together with the beneficiaries in at least eight outings a year, from cinema to theater, passing through concerts, conferences and museums, without forgetting libraries and playrooms. “One of the issues we had to face is how to bring carers and recipients together”, says Marin, “so we opened a dialogue with the health authority and with the social services that oversee the neighborhoods we deal with; we have established a stable relationship, so they tell us the families who are experiencing a little more difficulty and who would need a path that helps them to have more relationships within the community “. The meetings will be rigorously orchestrated: once the right people have been matched, those interested will have a first contact – possibly in the presence of a social worker – at the association’s headquarters. Along the way, there is a follow up continuous, through calls and control meetings.
Cultural service providers are also involved in the initiative. “Last year we also created a sort of suspended ticket for the theater for those who don’t have the resources to buy one”, adds the president, “in collaboration with the Css, the stable innovation theater of Friuli Venezia Giulia. The intention, however, is to create agreements, so that the families involved in the project have discounts in places or cultural events “.
In the past few months, the first trial adoptions have taken place. Marin himself, along with his wife, came into contact with a family and took their children aged five, seven and nine to some initiatives. “When they told me about the project, I immediately liked it,” he says Arianna Obinu, a university professor of Italian L2 and Arabic who took part in the first tests, “and I decided to put myself on the list to become an adopter”. Thus, the woman met the baby of a family residing in the Aurora neighborhood, Brandon. Once she took him to an exhibition, she discovered that he is very good at drawing. She also met her parents, because she – she says – they are an important part of the initiative. “If it is proposed to me, I will do it again”, concludes the teacher, “and I am also offering it to some of my colleagues: it is really an enriching experience for everyone”.