Getting to know “Il Sicomoro”, a Social Cooperative in Matera
“Il Sicomoro” is the Italian translation of the sycamore, which looks like a fig tree and it is very popular in the Middle East. It is a common “character” along the streets in Palestine, where it leaves splashes of colour on those biblical landscapes, apparently very similar to the ones in our Lucania. It has witnessed many chapters of the story of salvation, so that it has become a topos in the language of the Bible. However, sometimes the Sycamore tree turns out as the real protagonist: just like the evangelical episode of Zaccheo, where the Sycamore becomes the linking tool between Zaccheo and Jesus. In fact, the tiny and short Zaccheo ends up into a thick crowd and he climbs the sycamore in order to go over the multitude of people and get in contact with Jesus. With the roots in our land and our territory, we would like to become the right means, which let people make part of a bigger project, creating something capable to “change lives”.
The Social Cooperative Il Sicomoro was born in Matera in 2003 from the planning of Diocesan Caritas and within the Policoro Project. Today, it is active in different municipalities in Basilicata diversifying its interventions in the third sector policies: projects SPRAR and MSNARA for the reception of refugees and asylum seekers; management of nursing homes; job inclusion services for people with disadvantaged backgrounds; rehabilitation services and school support for children who suffer from learning disabilities; projects for the development of the local territory.
SPRAR (Protection System for Political Refugees and Asylum Seekers) project
It is a reception program addressed to political refugees and asylum seekers.
The hosts receive a house and a monthly pocket money for food and personal expenses.
Moreover they have access to:
- Italian language course,
- job orientation service,
- legal advice,
- health assistance,
- psychological support, if needed.
Additionally, the operators of the project will write down together with each guest an individual project, where they will consider his/her hobbies and interests, in order to support him/her in an active job quest. There is al so the possibility to fund three or four months of internship in order to support those enterprises which want to hire migrants.
Professional workshops (such as a sewing lab, computer lab, cooking workshop …) and leisure activities (like football matches or theatre lab) are organised for the free time.
The project also foresees activities for the integration as opportunities to interact and work together with the local population (meetings with the refugees in local schools, participation to public events …)
In 2017 the social cooperative “Il Sicomoro” has been appointed coordinator of one among the 50 projects for Matera European Capital of culture 2019. The winner project has been called “The Silent Academy”: it is a program gathering migrants, refugees and local communities, universities and technical trainings, creativity and public art, everything based on important values such as human dignity, personal identity and social inclusion.
The Silent University is an online platform where refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants can exchange their knowledge. The aim is to reactivate knowledge and competence of those who cannot use their academic background due to the fact that they are living in another country rather than their homeland. This platform offers an academic program with conferences, debates and so on. The first one was born in London in 2012, thanks to the Kurdish artist Ahmet Ögüt. Since then, they have opened new branches all over the world, from Stockholm and Hamburg to Amman and Athens, until the launch of the German version, in 2015 in Mülheim.
In contrast to the Silent University, the Silent Academy conceived by “Il Sicomoro” for Matera 2019 has replaced the online platform with four different locations in Basilicata; moreover, it has completed the training with technical subjects, in addition to the academic ones.
Most of the 300 people we host have practical and technical competencies, which reflect the roots of our tradition basically made of handicraft products. Thanks to them, we have the opportunity to discover our ancient habits one again. We try to give a voice to those who lost it, according to the methodology called by Latins festina lente: rush slowly
Panecotto – ethical bistrot
Panecotto is a place where you can taste different local products and you can even buy the things you like the most and bring them home with you. It is an ethical bistrot because tourists and locals can find there not only the original scents and tastes of our territory, but also real stories and special people.
The concept behind “Panecotto” is the idea to build a new welfare system, trying to carry on activities which can produce incomes to be used to finance other social projects.
Moreover, Panecotto is also a place for inclusion and integration, because the cooperative “Il Sicomoro”, in cooperation with “MEST” organises workshops for the job inclusion of people with disadvantaged backgrounds, like migrants or people with Down syndrome (thanks to the cooperation of the Italian Association of People with Down Syndrome).
Recentely, Il Sicomoro, has also started a new cooperation with the association “Talità Kum”, offering music therapy individual or group sessions for children and for pregnant women. Thanks to the power of music, this discipline will support children with learning disabilities or hyperactivity to face their problems related to the interpersonal relationships. Moreover, a specific set of sessions is offered for pregnant women, so that families can welcome new born in a positive and safe space, full of musical emotions.