They played football and went to the church – they were welcome

Ripabottoni in mourning for migrants. They gave the jaded village a new breathe, but they were ‘rehomed’.

Ripabottoni is called the and it is located on a ridge in South-Central Italy, Molise. You know the area, perhaps even of the earthquakes in 2002 to almost 30 people to the life cost.

In the …

Ripabottoni is called the and it is located on a ridge in South-Central Italy, Molise. You know the area, perhaps even of the earthquakes in 2002 to almost 30 people to the life cost.

In the village live just a little more than 500 Italians and they think differently than many others about immigrants. While in Italy and also elsewhere in Europe – the resistance against refugees from Africa is not immediately decreasing, wants Ripabottini nothing more than that the reception centre for refugees in their village will remain.

More than 150 villagers signed a petition for the refugees. Also a meeting and protest march in favour of the shelter attracted many people. To no avail. The shelter went up last week close. The refugees were dispersed to other centres in the region. The village is in mourning.

First against, then for their arrival

Back in time: autumn 2016. In Ripabattoni be 32 migrants from Senegal, Gambia, Ivory coast, Mali and Nigeria, is to be found. Very excited is the village. There is circulating a petition in which the prefecture will be asked to no migrants to Ripabattoni to send.

But the village changes his mind. CNN spoke with Mariantoinietta Sauro. She is one of the villagers that two petitions signed: the first to warn against the arrival of the strangers and the second to ask if they would be allowed to continue.

‘The morning that they arrived here, I went to the church. I saw them anxiously looking around, still a lot scarier than I myself felt. It broke my heart. I felt rotten because I that petition had drawn. I went to the church, excused me from God and I promised Him that I would do anything to make up for that. What I then also did.”

They are playing soccer and went to church

Lamin Darboe (the Gambia), told the news his story. “In the bar at the beginning of the village, we got free coffee. The people gave us clothes, shoes and soccer balls.’ Darboe was his had to flee the country because he writings had removed to the former president, Yahya Jammeh. In Italian village, he continued re-writing. For the children of Ripabottoni he came up with more than 40 stories. He tried to give the children some English.”

And even more important for the Italians: ‘After a few days asked the local football team to us to come. From that day on, we played every Thursday compete against each other.’ Six migrants were so good that they are in the Italian team, were included.

Other Africans were very welcome because they are the church choir wanted to strengthen.

Parochiepriester Gabriele Tamilia was one of the greatest proponents of the asielcentrum. In the petition, he wrote: “We have excellent relationships with those guys built up. Our two christian communities, catholic and protestant, have them included in their respective activities. And they have us in many different ways helped.’

The village shouldered

But there is more. The migrants brought new blood in the village and it is exactly that what makes them so popular. “They have the village rejuvenated,” says the former mayor. Ripabottoni is one of those many South Italian communities, which is slowly deflating. Many of the region leaving to find work in the north of Italy, or, longer ago, elsewhere in Europe and in America.

But now the migrants wegmoeten, the Italians are again on their own. And because the shelter is closing, losing 15 people their jobs – in a region where jobs are rare.

‘Now we had a positive story’

Why is the centre in Ripabottoni close had, is less clear. Anyway, were the shelters not meant to last forever to stay open, says the official. Villagers point to the current mayor, but who wants only to talk to the press.

Danilo Leva (LeU), a member of parliament from the region, has sent a letter to the competent minister of the Interior Marco Minniti, asking for a review of the decision. “This story of true integration was abruptly interrupted while it is a positive example of hospitality. We have the duty to bring such good practices to encourage, not to oppress them.’

In his writing refers Leva to Gorino in the province of Ferrara. That village was asked to twelve women, one of whom is pregnant, and eight minors to catch. When the bus arrived the refugees to a reception centre would bring, blocked 200 villagers in the way with pallets and bins. “We want you”, was called.

Sources: CNN,, Il Vpro del Molise,

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