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Wednesday, 06 September 2017

African Migrants Find Work as Beekeepers in Italy

A group in Italy is training migrants — mostly from sub-Saharan Africa — as beekeepers, then pairing them with honey producers who need employees. Aid groups say new efforts by European leaders to stem the flow of migrants from Africa ignores the fact that Europe needs these workers. According to Oxfam, Italy alone will need 1.6 million migrants over the next 10 years. Back in his native Senegal, the only interaction Abdul Adan ever had with bees was when one stung his mouth while he was eating fresh honey. That day, his mouth was so swollen that he didn't leave his home in Senegal's Casamance region. Years later as a migrant worker in Alessandria, Italy, Adan is so comfortable with the insects that he does not even use gloves as he handles their hives and inspects their progress. "I'm looking to see if the queen is here or not," he said, as he uses his bare hands to look for the yellow dot that indicates the queen he placed in the hive a week before. "If there was the queen, she would have started laying eggs, but I don't see any eggs." Adan is part of a project called Bee My Job, in which the Italian Cambalache Association trains migrants and refugees as beekeepers and finds work for them in Italy's agribusiness industry. The association's president, Mara Alacqua, says they have hosted and trained 107 people — mostly from Sub-Saharan Africa — since launching in 2014. "Our beds are always full," she said. "Every time a person leaves the project, and so we have a spare place, that place is covered straight away just within two days' time." The migrants also take language classes as part of the program. Today, Adan is fluent in Italian and, despite his initial fears, he has become one of the most successful trainees.

Source: Voice of Africa