The University of Trento keeps its doors open to asylum seekers
Since 2016, 21 applicants for international protection and asylum seekers from different countries, with the qualifications required to participate in the “UniTrento for Refugees” programme, have had the opportunity to attend courses at the University of Trento. At the moment there are 11 students in the programme, for whom the University has launched the "Adotta un@ studente" fundraiser.
By virtue of an agreement with Opera Universitaria, these students are offered full board and accommodation. The programme, however, does not cover expenses for other essential goods which may be taken for granted.
With your help, the students of the programme will continue to receive their scholarship.
With a small donation to “Adotta un@ studente” (adopt a student) you can give these young students the opportunity to become self-sufficient and to regain the dignity they were denied in their country of origin.
Thanks to the donations received since December 2018, 3 female and 8 male students were able to leave the reception system and to benefit from the monthly scholarship to buy books, other study material and essential goods.
Based on the donation goal, the scholarships will amount to about 80 euro per month per student.
Read about Adèle and Pablo (the young people who participate in this programme risk persecution in their home country, that is why we are not revealing their actual names).
The story of Adèle
My name is Adèle and I have left Cameroon for political reasons, because of troubles caused by my father’s political work.
The ruling party changed the Constitution to stay in power and prevent others from governing. It is a dictatorship: the same party has been ruling the country for 35 years.
My father left that party and joined one of the opposing ones, becoming the opposition’s representative in our city. In 2008 there were clashes between the ruling party and the opposition in Yaoundé, the political capital of Cameroon, and I was arrested together with my father. At first, we thought the protests would be peaceful, because they were announced long before. But when we arrived in the capital and joined the parade, the police arrived and soon started to abduct individuals and to take them away in their cars: that is when they took my father too and I never saw him again. They arrested me too and took me to the police station: there were many other people there, they put us in a large room and started questioning us on why we participated in the demonstration. I was a minor then. The police raped us and then decided to free children and pregnant women.
When they let me go I went back to my town and found out that my father had been killed. Nobody was home and the house was messed up, someone had broken in. I had better leave town at least until the protests continued.
A woman in a nearby town took me in and there I found out I was pregnant. There was nothing I could do, I had no news on the other members of my family. I had to tell my story to that woman and she helped me until I gave birth. Then I tried to go back to my hometown thinking that nobody would hurt me now that I had a baby. I went to the state attorney’s office looking for information on my father’s death and there I was asked to go to the police station. When I got there they threatened me and told me that I had to stop looking for explanations or I would end just like my father did.
I begged them to give me at least a death certificate so that I could inherit my father’s belongings and provide for my child. They told me I could not get anything because my father had left “the true political party” and joined the wrong one, that was why the state had seized all he had. They told me I had no rights because all those who have ties to the opposing party have no rights. At that point, as we had no rights and could not escape the authorities, my child and I were not free anymore, and would never be free again.
After these events I decided to move to Gabon, the neighbouring country, where people speak French like we do and also some of our dialects. Apart from that, I chose that country most of all because Gabon was accepting Cameroon refugees during this chaotic and violent time.
We spent 4 years there. My son was handed over to a family. I had already obtained my high school diploma when the unrest started and I wanted to continue my studies. It would have been great for me and it would have helped me make my dreams come true. But clashes broke out in Gabon too, so I decided to go back to Cameroon, where the situation seemed to have quieted down. I thought that was the best thing to do and that I could live freely in Cameroon.
When I got there, however, I was banished from my city and I was denied the right to study because I was not allowed to attend university. Once again, without freedom and no rights, I lived as if I were in a prison. I tried to migrate to Canada as a refugee, because there are agreements between Cameroon and Canada, but my visa application was rejected. I was harassed while I was asking for information in public offices: I could not report anything because everyone was against me. I could not go to public offices, I could not claim anything, I could not interact with other people, I was isolated and persecuted because my father left the ruling party. My life was in danger. I made the decision to leave the country for good.
In 2014 I escaped to Tunisia, hoping that I could study there and live a normal life. I tried to apply for asylum but I was told that my problems were insignificant and that I would have been sent back to Cameroon.
At this point, with other people coming from other countries, we decided to go to Libya knowing the risks it would mean for our lives: we crossed the desert and then boarded a boat. My goal was to reach a state where human rights were truly respected, or I would have died since I would have been a dead person in my country anyway.
Thank God I reached Italy safe and sound. I will never stop being thankful for the help I received here from people and institutions. People still support me, believe in me and encourage my integration through the University’s “Progetto di accoglienza” for refugee students, which was launched by the University of Trento and thanks to which I can learn and continue my university studies, an opportunity I did not have in my home country. Thank you.
The story of Pablo
My name is Pablo, I am 24 and I am from Venezuela. I have been in Italy since 2016. Until then and since 2014 I had been a law student and an activist of "Primero Justicia", the main political party opposing Nicolas Maduro’s regime, and that is why I was persecuted in those years for my political views against the government. The demonstrations that I organized in many villages were peaceful and compliant with article 350 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which allows the people of Venezuela to “disown any regime, legislation or authority that violates democratic values, principles and guarantees or encroaches upon human rights.” We protested against inflation, crime and the lack of basic commodities. I was unlawfully detained by the State Police three times and I was threatened to death several times by the regime’s forces, its supporters and politicians. I was beaten, tortured, held in solitary confinement with no food or water. The three times I was arrested no charges were brought against me and no writ of habeas corpus was issued. And all the three times I was denied the right to have counsel appointed and could not meet with a lawyer nor see my relatives. When I was released they recognised me in the streets and threatened me again, hoping to find me and my colleagues alone to kill us. Venezuelan armed forces enjoy immunity: if they kill you they are not held responsible of anything, for them life is worthless.
I left the Faculty of Law and tried to stay out of political involvement, but I ignored the fact that at that point they knew all about my family and me. We would all pay for my activism in the opposition’s party. I enrolled in Civil engineering at the National Experimental University of the Armed Forces but I was expelled because of my previous political activity; the official reason for expulsion was a violation of the University’s code of ethics but no explanation was provided. My mother, who used to work as a director of an elementary school, was dismissed and the motivation provided stated that she had voted for the opposition’s party and had supported her son and his anti-government ideas. Besides, my family, and all those that were known for having opposed the regime, was deprived of all aids and benefits granted to Venezuelan citizens in need of financial support: we could no longer receive food and other basic commodities. State aids for poor families are managed and controlled by government forces, which kept them away from our home and from the homes of other families known to be against the regime. The population is rioting over food shortages: food and basic goods are in short supply and the only way to survive, for those who have some money, is to buy on the black market at a very high price that most people cannot afford. I was denied the right to healthcare: I was hurt while playing football with some friends and I needed to see a doctor right away; they took me to a clinic and the doctor clearly told me that he would not help the regime’s opponents. I left politics and moved to other cities but the consequences of my activism kept following my family, so my life and theirs were in constant danger. The one thing I could do to save myself was leaving: the regime does not stop opponents from leaving the country. I took my passport and legally arrived to Italy and for some time I stayed at some Venezuelan friends’ in Trentino. They helped me learn the rules and laws of this nation and to know my rights as an asylum seeker in the Italian Republic. I wish to stay in this country so that my fundamental human rights are respected, I do not have to live in fear anymore, and I do not risk to lose my home or my life because of my political opinions. I hope I will be granted the status of political refugee because I want to live in a world where all human beings are treated with dignity.
How to contribute
Credit card or PayPal
Click the "donate now" button and you will be transferred to the website of Banca popolare di Sondrio.
- select the beneficiary – choose Università di Trento
- payment justification (top right corner) – Studenti rifugiati
- type in the amount you would like to donate
- in the “causale” field, choose "donazione di modico valore per Studenti rifugiati” (small charitable donation for refugee students)
- fill in the fields marked with an asterisk and click on "avanti" (continue)
- choose your payment method and then click on "paga" (pay)
Università degli Studi di Trento
In the “causale” field, state "donazione di modico valore per Studenti rifugiati” (low value charitable donation for refugee students).
Under article 783 of the Italian Civil Code, what is meant by “low value” depends on the financial status of the donor.
For donations above 1,000 € please contact: fundraising [at] unitn.it
Donations to the University of Trento are deductible from income tax.
For tax purposes, to prove that you have made a donation, keep the payment receipt with the documents you will need when you fill in your tax return. For further information please download the pdf file in the Download section.