San Ferdinando di Calabria, at the Sisters of Charity, the Caritas Canteen of the Oppido Mamertina Palmi diocese is active, supported also by the ‘8 x mille’ funds of the Italian Episcopal Conference. Together with the Solidarity Warehouse and the diocesan Listening Centre, it is a safe harbour where anyone in need can land and find acceptance and new dignity.

The “tent city” ghetto

A few hundred metres away is the scandalous ‘tent city’, where immigrants who find occasional employment in seasonal farm work – tomato picking, orange picking… – live in a ghetto of illegal work, misery and neglect. The attendance figures, on the days of the greatest harvest, reach up to 2000 people. The “tent city” is a no man’s land, where even the state is absent, a ghetto with no rules, no security, no hygiene, and no minimum living conditions. Yet the fruit and vegetables that arrive on the tables of Italians are the fruit of their labour.

A warm meal, full of humanity

The sisters of the community, together with a very active group of Friends of St. Jeanne Antide, run the Caritas Canteen, which provides meals and comfort to families in financial difficulty and migrants, twice a week.

AJA volunteers prepare around 400 meals, 200 in the Canteen, for disadvantaged families and the most vulnerable. And another 200, with single-serving trays of still-warm food, reach the ‘tent city’ for distribution to farm labourers.

A place for everyone

The Canteen welcomes everyone, without distinction: families in economic difficulty, immigrants, single women, single mothers, and anyone experiencing a moment of serious fragility. The presence of the Sisters of Charity, with their closeness and dedication, contributes to an environment where everyone feels materially and spiritually nourished.

The story of Osama, from guest to mediator

After receiving help and support at the Canteen, Osama wished to contribute to the integration of her compatriots through valuable language mediation. An intercultural exchange that thus goes beyond food, involving habits, language and customs, creating lasting bonds of friendship between people and generating a culture that unites and enriches.