|Ph. Lucia Borghi|
The facility is an old farm in the middle of storehouses and greenhouses, a couple of kilometers away from Marina di Modica. The only way to reach the farm is by unpaved road that, branching off of the main road, leading through twists and turns into heartland. Upon our arrival, we introduce ourselves to the group of 5 migrants sitting at the entry. Immediately, an employee joins us and tells us to ask for a permit to be able to visit the center.
She explains to us that the center is in its initial stage; it has only been open for a month. They were aware that the facility is located in a remote area and were planning on organizing vans for transportation to the city center. At the moment, 28 male adults were hosted by the center, some of them coming directly from Pozzallo. We are unable to find out anything else about the cooperative. In the following days, we try to reach the people in charge via phone and in writing yet unfortunately unsuccessfully.
However, we are able to have a short conversation with the migrants present. They are happy, since we are the first visitors with the exception of the facility’s management. They have been isolated here for a month and suffer from being in no man’s land.
Most of them come from two recently closed first reception centers: the Opera Pia Istituto Rizza Rosso in Chiaramonte Gulfi and the cooperative Virtus in Modica. Most of them have been in Italy for several months or years. Some have been transferred here directly from the hotspot in Pozzallo. Before we say goodbye, they repeat that all of them suffer from a feeling that can be described similar to being buried alive because of the total seclusion they live in. They say that many leave on their own after a few months, fearing for their mental health.
We know that the migrants do not have a choice but fortunately are strong-willed. Some of them who have survived the journey across the sea have to wait for years to obtain documents. They have tried to survive and have settled, trying to break free from this nonexistence and social exclusion to which the current practice of receptions condemns them. We meet some of them again on the streets of Marina di Modica where they go on an almost daily basis—to do errands, to buy phone cards, and to meet other people, in spite of the many kilometers they have to cover, by foot under the glaring sun.
|Ph. Lucia Borghi|
“We don’t want to live in luxurious houses or own who knows what. We accept to sleep with six people in a room, where there are also sometimes snakes, because we live in the countryside, we accept to not have clean restrooms and to get bad food, like in the hotspot in Pozzallo. We only need the bare minimum. The only problem that we have is that we are completely isolated and far off of everything,” one of them says.
The choice of locating a new first reception center at a place like this clearly show that it is not rehabilitation and interaction between migrants and the local community that is important to the authorities but merely to provide the bare minimum of care and support.
“Most likely, they see us as half a human, without any needs except for eating and sleeping,” C. surmises before we say goodbye. “To send us to a place like this means not to see that we are humans.”