Alice from Rwanda, seriously ill, entirely alone, arrives in Paris for treatment after five years in refugee camps and orphanages. She is fifteen. After days at the detention zone at the airport, she is sent to a centre for asylum seekers.
After such traumatising and dangerous journeys, their arrival is a challenge for everybody, says Jean-Marie Carrière SJ, who collaborates with GISTI, an organisation that works for the rights of foreigners (www.gisti.org). Alice’s case, like hundreds of others, meets with indifference from the authorities. No responsible person is assigned to supervise the child; worse, the child is often viewed as a potential criminal. The St. Ignatius Foundation located in Trento, taking account of the problem, offers a training course in accordance with a 1997 law on the rights of children, for guardians volunteering to be with unaccompanied foreign children. Here, adults are required to guarantee their rights to health and education and interact on their behalf with the authorities while the judicial authorities decide whether or not they must be repatriated. This course is the first of its kind in Italy. Active involvement is called for; charity is not enough.