Most children who drop out of school look for work to help their parents. But some children are staying at home or hanging out in the street. The danger is in this neighbourhood, says Ponzo. Ponticelli is famous for having many active mafia clans. The neighborhood is regularly in the news after a shooting, explosion or police raid.
“Because of the lack of work here, young people are at risk of recruitment by criminal organizations. If they do not have a diploma, or are not trained, this risk is even greater.”
positive role model
nonprofit organization Stradan gentlemen So he tries to keep vulnerable youth off the streets with all kinds of workshops. “The most important thing is that they feel they have allies here,” says Nicola Laita, who is supervising a theater workshop.
“Children who come here often have problems with their parents. Because they don’t have money, they are absent, or have been involved in crime themselves. Their parents are not clan chiefs, but soldiers. And many fathers are in prison because of stupidity.”
To prevent their children from going down the same path, Laieta says it’s especially important that they have good role models. “Many of the young people who come here would like to become psychologists or counselors later, because they are dealing with it. And for young people who don’t have positive role models, the only thing that stands out is crime.”
15-year-old Antonio also attends Laieta’s theater workshop. In the play they are rehearsing, he gets a lead role. “I get emotional when I think about it,” he says. “I never thought I could do that before.”
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