- The Women of Eurosia
The Eurosia Cooperative was a spin-off of the "Farsi Prossimo Onlus” [“Love Thy Neighbour Nonprofit”] to provide a safe space for young women, both Italian and foreign, who have survived a difficult past. A grant from the Cattolica Foundation made it possible to organise training courses, and to purchase equipment for a professional kitchen
Rediscovering your worth as an individual, as a woman, as a mother, through work. This is the goal of the Eurosia project, the brainchild of the Farsi Prossimo Onlus, a social cooperative in Milan founded in 1993 as one of the operating branches of Caritas Ambrosiana [Ambrosian Charity]. The cooperative, by developing educational and retraining programmes, intends to help develop a person's self-worth so that they can fit well into society. Particular care and focus are placed on society’s most vulnerable, the disenfranchised, victims of human trafficking, and political refugees.
It was within this context that the Eurosia project was created. Specialised in desserts and savoury preserves, this artisan kitchen employs young mothers, both Italian and foreign, who have lived through violence and chaos. On the heels of the success of M’Ama Food, the ethnic catering and banqueting operation that enfranchised women from the Horn of Africa in particular, preparing and packaging food became once again, for the guests of the cooperative, a key moment to redevelop their self-confidence and dignity as survivors.
“What we make in here”, notes Fabrizia Ferrari, project coordinator, “can hold its own against any commercial project. Pastries, preserves, jars of fruit, and vegetable compotes are the result of a study in product quality, as well as marketing and packaging research. The stars of this operation are the young ladies who train here. When they move on from their experience with us, they have marketable skills.
The support of Cattolica Foundation has been crucial: it made it possible to provide training for the women working in Eurosia, in addition to allowing for the purchase of equipment to launch the industrial kitchen. “I have always dreamed of cooking”, says Cassandra, one of the cooperatives guests. “Here, I can finally make that dream come true. Thanks to the flexible hours, I can still be a mom and take care of my two children”.
In their eyes, one can see hope and a sense of redemption, even if still at times clouded by fear. “Inside this place, I’m happy”, says Micaela, “because they are teaching me to make food. I like what I’m learning, and the products I make are really good”.
Eurosia is proof that by joining expertise and sensitivity, one can open new roads to social entrepreneurship. These are paths through which disadvantaged persons may themselves become the architects of their own redemption. This is the new progress on the horizon, and this is the new strategy in which Cattolica Foundation is investing.