Province of La Spezia springtime 2015

In winter I hear about a project of integration, a course of agriculture, for 7 african refugees arrived recently by boat on the italian coast.  Spontaneously I decide to make a photographic reportage about this project – also as reaction to the recent racist activities in Italy and my country of origin, Germany. The duration of the project is three months, every week I pass many hours with these african guys and their italian teachers. The course was divided into several stages: first there was an introduction in a company of organic farming near to Sarzana, then some time at an organic olive tree cultivation at Vezzano Ligure, thereafter with a wintner near to Riomaggiore and at the end the work with the Foundation of Manarola. This last stage was also the longest and most important one, and it happened to take place in “my” village, Manarola. Here the participants had to learn how to build dry stone walls. These walls keep the landscape of the Cinque Terre in place, the terraced landscape that had make the Cinque Terre famous. If the walls are not continously maintained the risk of violent landslides that bring in danger also the villages increases a lot (as we have seen in 2011 when the Cinque Terre villages of Vernazza and Monterosso have been nearly destroyed by incredible landslides).

By the end of the course many terrace fields have been cleaned up, many cubic metres of dry stone walls have been rebuilt. During all this time I learnt a lot about those young men and their stories and we built up a mutual confidence that after a while contributed to make my photocamera “invisible”. I’ve been impressed by how works gives dignity, they were so proud of themselves (and they were right!) and I was fascinated to see how they interacted: they were originating from 4 different countries, had no language in common but however the communication worked sensationally. Most of those young men by the end of the course found a job at one of the wine growers of the Cinque Terre and others have been included in a cooperative.

The project has been realized with by Aesseffe S.c.p.a agenzie formative in cooperation with the National Park of the Cinque Terre , La Caritas La Spezia, the Foundation Manarola, the C.I.A. and the prefettura La Spezia.

The pictures have been published in several national and international newspapers and magazins, the reportage has been presented during some conferences and meetings.