Riace is a town of about 1,726 inhabitants near Reggio Calabria, well-known for the discovery, in 1972, the famous Riace Bronzes, two bronze statues of Greek origin discovered in an exceptional state of conservation just 200 meters from the coast of Riace Marina.
Since 2004, thanks to the hospitality of the mayor Domenico Lucano policies, the country and in particular the old town depopulated, he gave hospitality to more than 6,000 asylum seekers from 20 different countries, integrating them in the city cultural fabric and introducig them into the employment of the small village, making the city of Riace come back to a new life.
The mayor Domenico figure at the 40th place in the world ranking of the 50 influential men in the American magazine Fortune. It all started in 1998, with the landing of 200 refugees from Kurdistan in Riace Marina. The association Città Futura (dedicated to the Sicilian priest killed by the mafia, Don Giuseppe Puglisi) decided to help immigrants just landed giving them the available old houses abandoned by their owners, long gone from the country.
Thanks to his inclusion policies, the mayor of Riace has managed not only to offer hospitality to refugees (now 400 across the country), but also to all illegal immigrants with right of asylum, keeping alive the primary importance services like school by funding the small town with micro entrepreneurial activities related to crafts such as textiles and ceramic workshops as well as bars and bakeries to get to the the recycling door to door collection, guaranteed by two non-European and transported through the use of donkeys.
In order to cover the delay of the Community contribution, in the country runs a special currency in denominations of 10, 20 and 50 euro, that immigrants can use for daily costs, waiting for the European funds.
The immigrants integration is ensured by approximately 70 cultural mediators employed by the municipal authorities and part of Sprar system (Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees), born to propose, beyond the measures of assistance and protection to individual beneficiaries, the process of social and economic integration of which seems Riace is a promoter.
About the author:
Michele Cirillo (Italy, 1988) is a photojournalist based in Rome, interested in narrating human stories and the geopolitical changes of recent years. During the past years he has collaborated with various newspapers and agencies as Repubblica.it, Parallelo Zero, Positive-Magazine, The Post Internazionale. His travels include: Mexico, Ecuador, Tanzania, Kurdistan, Turkey, Bosnia and Palestine.