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Guardianship in Sicily (Part 2)

Guardianship in Sicily
We designed (created) a guardianship process. Guardians wouldn’t just be appointed. They had to follow some steps. It was like homework. The first step was to re-create a relationship based on trust. These children have travelled for one year and a half. They are victims of abuse and violence. They hate adults. The adults have jeopardised their future, have made them witness the horrors of war. The adults have denied their dreams, and aspirations. So the first thing to do is build these children’s trust. That is why we tell the guardians that for one or two months, they should go out with the children, smile to them, and create a relationship.
The second step that the guardians have to take is to listen to the child’s story. Once the information was collected,
the guardian had to do something more complicated: listen to the child’s dreams. The child’s aspirations. I always heard I had a guardian, the mayor, but I never knew him. He had thousands of people. I said, okay, for me it’s important that he deals with my documents, that everything is in order. When I went to the Commission, they said they need to nominate a guardian for me. Because the first time I spoke to her she came to my room, and she said that she had a guardian who was good. Who was just like her mother. When she told me, it was clear she was happy. Then she dragged Khadija. I asked for Khadija’s guardianship, because I knew she had some difficulties.
Because she saw the difference between having a guardian who was an authority like the mayor, and a guardian who is more “human”. She was really keen on our meeting each other. [BACKGROUND NOISE, LAUGHTER] To design (create) the role of guardians, we drew from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. We didn’t focus on one right in particular. The UN convention is divided into several areas. We focused on five areas that we thought were fundamental. This created a framework of rights the guardian had to guarantee to the children. The first area was listening and participation. The second area concerned civil rights.
It was a matter of protecting the children’s freedom of religion, ensuring their right to an identity to have their name and surname, and to not be mere numbers. The third area was the family involvement. Ensuring that children received care, and could establish relations with people in a family environment. Then there was health, in terms of prevention and healthcare.
Then there was education: school, culture, sports. We told the guardians they had to focus on these five areas. They had to make sure the children had access to these opportunities.

In this video we continue to learn about the programme of guardianship in Sicily. In this film we hear again from Pasquale d’Andrea, who is the Head of the Child Protection Authority of the city of Palermo. He tells us more about the role of guardians appointed by the Juvenile Court. Pasquale speaks about the legal role of a guardian to ensure that a child’s needs are being met and that they are being safeguarded. He also highlights the importance of guardians developing a good relationship with the children they have responsibility for.

In the video we also meet Maria Letizia Barone and the three young people who arrived as unaccompanied children that she is now guardian for. We hear how one of the children, Khadija, was originally appointed a guardian who was an official of the local government and whom she never met. Khadija heard from her two friends that Maria Letizia was a good guardian and so she requested that Maria Letizia become her guardian, too. In the film they are joined by Annalisa Romeo who is Khadija’s social worker from the care setting Khadija is living in. Khadija also has a very good and caring relationship with her social worker.

We would like to thank everyone who participated in the making of these films on guardianship, and staff in the UNICEF office in Palermo for helping with the facilitation.

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