Pollica For Ukraine – Lab For Peace

Launch of a project by the Municipality of Pollica, Future Food Institute, and Mygrants to welcome refugees in the small villages of Cilento.

In the homeland of the Mediterranean Diet, Food Diplomacy becomes an instrument of Peace.

Pollica, Italy. 27 March 2022 – Repopulating the villages of Cilento: this is the challenge to which the Municipality of Pollica, Future Food Institute, and Mygrants intend to address starting from the humanitarian emergency generated by the war in Ukraine. Through a declaration of intent, signed this morning by Stefano Pisani, mayor of the City of Pollica, Sara Roversi, president of the Future Food Institute, and Chris Richmond Nzi, founder of Mygrants, the project was created with the aim of welcoming refugees fleeing from Ukraine. It endeavors to provide not only a safe place to live, but also a place where conviviality, the table around which people gather, and training become powerful tools for integration. 

The signing of the declaration of intent took place on the sidelines of Pollica Digital Week, an event taking place until March 31 in the Princes Capano Castle in Pollica (Salerno). On an institutional visit to Italy, as part of a mission organized by the Italian Women’s Union, in collaboration with Future Food Institute, the Ukrainian MP Novytska Mariia Volodymyrivna, government delegate for human rights, announced her support for the initiative. The process to select the participating women and children is underway. 

This is a pilot project that, in this first phase, will involve up to a maximum of thirty people who will be welcomed in Cilento, in Pollica, where those fleeing from situations of great insecurity will be able to find a diverse, welcoming, and inclusive community that makes itself available to offer a process of integration and mutual discovery. A path that will initially include linguistic facilitation and sharing of the key values of the “Mediterranean Diet” model, from self-production of food, with the possibility to take care of a garden, to living together, it aims to be an instrument of peace. 

For those Ukrainians who wish, thanks to the programs offered by the Future Food Institute and Mygrants, supported by the collaboration of Rareche Cilento, New Cooperative of Cilento, and Italian Women’s Union, it will also be possible to undertake training and placement programs in the cultural, agricultural, catering, and agro-food processing sectors. A Food Diplomacy project that identifies conviviality, an essential element of the Mediterranean Diet, as a powerful tool for inclusion and regeneration.

“Our Future Food Institute had the great fortune to meet Pollica, the Emblematic Community of the Mediterranean Diet and Italian Women’s Union, and it was here in Pollica that we learned that the convivio, the table where daily bread is shared, has great power: to unite people. Now we focus on women and children, with broken hearts, fear, and uncertain futures, but who also have a wealth of talents, knowledge, and stories. An immense value. 

For this reason, the collaboration with Mygrants is fundamental, which for years has been working for the integration of migrants and refugees starting from the mapping of profiles and the discovery of talents. But today our project is not only aimed at finding work. We want to welcome new citizens and offer an opportunity for our community to grow. Here in Pollica, our lab is already inspired by the principles of the “Mediterranean Diet”: the enhancement and respect for diversity, the protection of resources, sustainable agricultural practices, the conviviality, the garden, and the repurposing of ‘waste.’

So, through a Food Diplomacy project we want to create a Lab of Peace, not only a reception project, which will immediately solve a problem, but a project of social, cultural, and economic regeneration, creating the future with the citizens of tomorrow. During this process, the families will be welcomed and listened to, they will be offered the opportunity to learn about the life of the Mediterranean, to grow a garden, to collaborate with a diverse,international community, but also to acquire skills that tomorrow may offer them job opportunities. 

The Pollica Campus is a place where young people from all over the world are already being trained on the themes of sustainability and food, powerful tools for inclusion. We think that from here a project of great impact to create bridges and welcome, to create a future together, can be born. All this is thanks to the close collaboration that our Institutional Relations Department has established with the Ukrainian Parliament thanks to its Delegate for Human Rights, who has made herself available to start a process of selection of families who will participate in the project, and this is just the beginning,” explained Sara Roversi, president of the Future Food Institute.

“Once again, the marginal areas of the country must be able to provide answers to emergencies. They did it during the pandemic and when we realized that the wide spaces of depopulated villages could be a solution to ensure an adequate quality of life during that difficult time. Now marginal areas are called to take on another challenge: to be inclusive. Just the villages, with the important spaces they have, could welcome in the best way the refugees escaping from the conflict in Ukraine. We want to give the dignity of life to these people who need to find at least a minimum of daily normality. We must welcome with great solidarity and willingness to help the people who had to leave Ukraine. We have to address them by thinking about a project that will allow them to stay on our territory for a more or less a long period of time. 

We want to do it with an inclusive and welcoming approach that takes care of people and their potential, creating conditions in which skills can be developed in the path of building the future, people and our territory that welcomes them. Through training we will break down language and cultural barriers, welcoming not guests, but temporary citizens, keeping intact the dignity of each one and offering them the opportunity to cultivate and increase their skills,” said Stefano Pisani, mayor of Pollica and coordinator Anci Piccoli Comuni Campania.

During Pollica Digital Week, a fundraising campaign was held to support Mygrants’ GoFundMe campaign.

“The integration of knowledge and skills could be the suitable and perfect solution to repopulate the villages, making them again thriving places that have so much to say and make available. That’s why we are honored to be in Pollica and to have launched a crowdfunding campaign to financially support Ukrainian people, enabling them to earn money on the basis of the quality of their training. We think that not only awareness, but also the possibility to be able to demonstrate their skills and achieve economic and financial autonomy is a starting point to achieve real independence. Mygrants is a for-profit start-up established in Bologna in 2017 that harnesses the power of new technologies to support the mapping of migrants’ skills in order to maximize the expendability of their skills in host communities. Today Mygrants has more than 350 thousand active users on the platform, not only in Italy, but also in other parts of the world. With the crisis in Ukraine, we decided to translate all our information and training content to promote a full awareness of rights, duties, and functioning of the asylum system and facilitate the emergence of the skills of Ukrainian people who have already arrived or are arriving in Italy. The goal is to ensure that all skills and talents can be useful, not only for job placement in specific sectors, but in particular for the repopulation of all small villages,” said Chris Richmond Nzi, founder of Mygrants.

To support the Mygrants campaign, visit:  https://gofund.me/3d9fc4d2