To know Cristina Moscuzza is to love and admire her. Cristina is that rare human being who has no ego attached to what she does. That she works in the field of social justice, advocacy and activism for refugees in Sicily would not surprise anyone who meets her: she is warm, friendly and genuine.
Cristina is that rare human being who has no ego attached to what she does. That she works in the field of social justice, advocacy and activism for refugees in Sicily would not surprise anyone who meets her: she is warm, vivacious an humble. There are many in Europe who are working to to alleviate the suffering of refugees , but few who do so selflessly, tirelessly and with no need or want of the recognition that might be important to others.
A recent meeting in Sicily with Cristina and the three amazing people she brought to meet my students and I, reveals her deep and genuine care for those with whom she works. She laughs easily, gives hugs freely and does not presume or try to speak for refugees or anyone else. In the room crowded with my students and others, she gave a short preamble, being very spare with her words, and then steps aside to let these young adults tell their stories in their own words She casts a maternal eye toward them and they return the look with smiles.
I’ve wanted to interview Cristina for some time now and was happy she could find the time for me. She is doing very important work in Sicily, but for her it is not just work: working with the refugees, with the vulnerable reflects a very distinct worldview that she has that human beings all have the right to dignity and protection. The organization that Cristina works for is ARCI, an organization in which she can realize her best self and hope those in need the most:
“ARCI is an independent association for the promotion of social and civil rights. With its 5,400 clubs and more than 1,100,000 members, it represents a broad structure for democratic participation. ARCI is committed to the promotion and development of associations as a factor for social cohesion, as places for civil and democratic commitment, for asserting peace and the rights of citizenship as well as to fight any form of exclusion and discrimination”.
SS:Please tell me about the organziation you work for and how you became involved with them.
CM:I have been involved in ARCI association for a long time. I was a teen when I had my first experience with them; in the following years I can say this always was, is and will be the association that reflects my life philosophy and my beliefs the most.
SS:What is your background, for instance, your education and other aspects of your career?
CM: I had classical studies during secondary school, and while I was studying it my desire of a less theorical university grew up. So I chose a Fine Arts Academy. When I graduated I join the ministerial program in order to spend a year in social services abroad. So in 2004 I first went to Tanzania in Africa. I spent 9 years of my life there, joining different NGO’s and then working in the tourist field also. In 2013 I had to return to Italy and ARCI was the first place I went. During that period of time,we faced the arrival of minor children coming to our coastline and trying to cope with it as much as it was possible for us. I was a cultural mediator and then, after some training , I was a legal advisor for ARCI, and then for different associations.
SS: Why are you intersted in refugees and migrants?
CM: I’m interested in human beings, but I have particular concern for those who are vulnerable.
SS: What is a typical work day for you like?
CM:My days are not so easy to predict! I try to engage myself in many things. So I am weekly working for ASP8 on call (that is the local administration of the HEALTH CARE FACILITIES) in different emergency camps for migrants, but I can be called from them also for emergencies in hospital. I am a guardian, so I try to take care of minors Court name me to look after them, and to dedicate them a little part of my time. I volunteer in ARCI every Monday and Wednesday afternoon, we open our office to migrants and people in needs. I’m helping a friend with secretary work few hours a day. And I am also mother of a 6 years old that takes all of my time!
SS: What do you see as the biggest problem refugees have coming to Sicily?
CM: The biggest problem is WHY do they have the need to come abroad. Then , the WAY they come because they have no other in how they will arrive here. But once they arrive in Sicily the biggest problem to me is the fact they cannot have others see and understand their migration to the laws and the international conventions.
·SS: How do most of the refugees adjust?
CM: They can cope with the long time they have to spend in emergency camps waiting for the proper documents, but too often this creates in them prejudices and preconceptions against Europeans and in some cases psychological effectss you might see in people “already integrated”. The reception system is terribly lacking.
SS: Are they able to find jobs?
CM: Oh yes they are. But only if there is job for them! (I’m sarcastic obviously!)
SS: What are do you like best about working with refugees?
CM: This line of work mirrors my work in Africa. I really miss it. So I can say working with refugees is my cure for Africa [home]sickness. I like every part of this experience: I take the bad with the good; it all teaches me a lesson.
SS: Does one need to be an expert to work with refugees?
CM: It helps, but it’s not strictly necessary. The best experience you can have is while you are doing it. Of course one doesn’t have to give legal advice if you are not knowledgable about it.
SS: What do people believe about refugees that is not true?
CM: People believe is enough just to see them as a problem, and it’s not necessary to see them as specific individuals. But they are indivuals with different names, different stories, different needs. To put people into categories is the most dangerous way to think and approach to this phenomena.
SS: Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
CM: Thanks for interviewing me!