Mahyadine is 17 and comes from Darfour in Sudan. He has been living with Wanda and her family in Turin, in the north of Italy, for about 2 months, thanks to the project Pagella in Tasca.

Pagella in Tasca is one of the programmes participating in the COMET network of legal pathways facilitating a new start for people in need of international protection. Promoted by Intersos and UNHCR, it brings unaccompanied minors to Italy to complete their primary and secondary studies.

He is studying at the CPIA (Centri provinciali per l’istruzione degli adulti – Provincial Centres for Adult Education) to get his middle school certificate, and will then do a 3-year professional course. He will stay with Wanda’s family until he finishes his studies and can become independent.

Wanda’s family, two daughters and a son, have joined Pagella in Tasca to play an active role in doing something to help people prior to the events that lead to their leaving their country and taking the risk of crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

When Wanda spoke to her children about the idea of welcoming an unaccompanied minor, they gave their support, with some enthusiasm and with some slight concern. To prepare for Mahyadine’s arrival, the family attended a training course where they met with other families who have welcomed children through the same project, and with staff from social services and the office for foreign minors.

The initial impact of Mahyadine’s arrival was anticipated by a bit of understandable anxiety, but the initial embarrassment faded away thanks to the boy’s kindness. Mahyadine fitted in perfectly with the family’s routine. It just took a little adjustment to get used to Italian cooking:

“The first time we met, he ordered a margherita pizza and didn’t like it at all, so my son finished it. For our second meal, at home this time, I prepared rice thinking he would like it, but he had been eating it too often in Niger and he didn’t like it. We found out that he really likes pasta with a lot of chilli.”

He cooked pasta “his way” with lots of onions and minced meat. He prepared a delicious dish, more so because it was made by him.

If someone were to have the same experience, Wanda would advise having a lot of patience and respect during the adjustment period of the beneficiary: everything is new, even things that you would not expect and that we take for granted. But they are young and learn very fast.