Last July, the first part of the Breaking Rays Project was held in Castel Gandolfo, Rome, where 22 young people from different countries were trained in communication, storytelling and audiovisual production, to generate positive impact stories.

breaking wngFrom June 29 to July 7, workshops and lessons in storytelling, journalism, and audiovisual production were held in Rome. Twenty-two young people from various countries gathered to attend workshops, talks, and lessons given by different experts in journalism, production, sound, editing, and social networks.

We want to tell you about the behind the scenes of the Italian film “I have friends in Heaven” (original title “Ho amici in Paradiso”), which is receiving both national and international praise. It is the first movie directed by Fabrizio Maria Cortese, who brought to the big screen actors with intellectual disabilities living in the Casa San Giuseppe (St Joseph’s Home) in Rome, an “Opera Don Guanella” Rehabilitation Center.

Poster film"I first came to Don Guanella three years ago because a friend had started living there after an accident. That's how I met these guys, I learned to socialize with them, understand them, play, laugh, and even ironize, because they are very self-deprecating!"

In this way Fabrizio Maria Cortese, screenwriter and director of the film “I have friends in Heaven”, talks about his first encounter with the people with intellectual disabilities who live in Casa San Giuseppe, a Rehab Center of the “Opera Don Guanella”, located in Rome, Via Aurelia Antica.

“And there”, he explains, “I had the idea of writing a movie subject, thinking about the idea of change, a change that I probably went through myself, in my life, thanks to my encounter with them.”

‘This village is extraordinary!’ – that’s a sentence Dany Karcher has heard many times from colleagues and visitors. He, the mayor of Kolbsheim, has no doubt as to what makes this place so special – ‘it’s the people, the community, who never fail to show solidarity, humanity, and – let’s dare to use that word – fraternity’.

Kolbsheim 1Welcome to Kolbsheim, a village in Alsace, in the east of France, whose 920 inhabitants have taken up the challenge of living together, with each other and for each other, with some very positive results.
Back in 2013, Dany was among the very first mayors in France to launch the so-called Journée citoyenne (active citizenship day) initiative, which was later adopted by many other towns and villages across the country. Every spring, the people of the village come together for a day and devote some of their time and energy to painting, gardening, and other DIY works that benefit the entire community.

‘What if we stopped waiting for the village council to do things for us and asked ourselves what it is that we can do for the village and for each other instead, even if just for a day?’ – that, in the mayor’s words, is the idea behind the initiative. With this question in mind, a group of eight people recently turned an abandoned field into a vegetable garden. Each family plants something, and everyone gets to share the crops. And the garden is also a nice excuse to spend time together and have a drink in good company.

“Italy’s Western Gateway”: this is one of the names under which Ventimiglia is known. An open door to the French Riviera, with which Ventimiglia shares bonds of geographical proximity and daily cultural, economic, and social relations.
A gateway, not a border, at least until France suspended the free-movement treaties that are part of the Schengen acquis. Since then, Ventimiglia has become a bottleneck where many migrants pile up: the ones who consider our country only as an intermediate stage in their journey towards their final destination across the border.

ventimiglia 1«More than 20,000 people travelled through Ventimiglia last year» Paola - a member of the local Focolare community – tells me «It is like a second Ventimiglia, considering that our current population is around 24,000. And since the beginning of 2017, about 18,000 people have already travelled through our town!». 

The summer campuses of the young people of the Focolare in Italy

Campus 1According to Marc Augé, a French ethnologist and anthropologist, the outskirts are the place where the problems debated at a national level are extremely real. For the Young People for a United World of Italy, in recent years, the outskirts have become a field of action from which they can start afresh and give hope, give voice to that part of society which often suffers because of the silence by the media and institutions, and switch on the spotlights again on the work of those who commit themselves to this reality on a daily basis.

«We have the opportunity to do more important things than fighting»
The choice of peace made by Nazieh, a young Syrian man who lives in Damascus

festival 1

A few weeks ago, we received the text of this experience signed by Nazieh, a young Syrian man from a little town near the city of Homs. We publish it as we received it (except for some adaptations for the translation).

«Hello, my name is Nazieh. I am from Syria and I want to share an experience from my life with all of you. I come from a village near Homs. Al Qaeda attacked this village in 2013. They entered the village and they killed about 40 people. Because of this war attack, many houses and all schools were destroyed. Two years later, ISIS attacked my village again, but this second time they didn’t enter the village. I lost my nephew, he died when facing ISIS because of a car which exploded when they attacked the village. Together with others from the village, we decided to help the people in our village: do something for them, bring them some joy to help them have a normal life again.

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