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A bit of history


 
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A Bit of History
 

The Community's first efforts of outreach to the poor were to children -- the children of the shantytown near Rome's Cinodromo district, -- the children of immigrants from the South of Italy, who were growing up at the borders of the life of the city and who seemed destined to lives of exclusion. For these children, schooling often represented one more way in which they were pushed toward the margins of society: the school system did not bridge the gap between the culture of the South and that of Rome, and most times rejected the children altogether. So the Community founded what was then called  the School of Peace. This was meant to be a setting where every child could study and learn, helped by the love and friendship of adults.

From 1968 until today, the Community has come to know the different faces of child poverty.

From the Roman shantytowns, the Community turned its attention to the children of the new outskirts on the margins of the city. They were children who spent their days on the street; they were growing up in a dehumanised and anonymous environment, without strong family ties.

For these children, adolescence (and, with it, Junior High School) was a time of particular difficulty. The temptation to drop out of school or join a gang was great. They often felt older than they were, yet under the skin they were quite frail, So the Community founded another kind of Schools of Peace, especially adapted to the needs of adolescents. This Schools of Peace is meant to be a place where teenagers can meet in a positive and humane fashion, a place that offers friendship to all.

 

Over time, some of the young people we were helping were put into care. In order to maintain our friendship with them we started a service for institutionalised minors. In those Children's Homes, as they are called, we also met many children of immigrants and Gypsy children.

 

In the nineteen eighties, then, we established People's Schools specially designed for the Gypsy children who were living in makeshift camps around Rome. These schools the Community members focus on teaching the Gypsy children the Italian language and giving them health education. We also help families to register their children for conventional schooling.

 

Today the Community's work in education has spread throughout the world, and there are Schools of Peace for young people in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia.

The Youngest


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