A brighter life for refugees in Italy

Volunteers from Specialty Coatings sites across Europe joined together to improve the lives of refugees who have fled their war-torn homelands for the safety of Italy.

A brighter life for refugees in Italy

The group, in Milan for the EMEA sales meeting, decided to support Casa Suraya – a shelter for refugees that also works to integrate them into their new communities and enable them to live independently. Since June 2015 more than 12,000 refugees – around 40 percent of them children – have found sanctuary there.

The building also houses Casa Sant’ Anna, which cares for teenage girls legally removed from their families due to issues such as abuse, and M’ama Food, a social catering project that helps the refugees learn skills and earn money.

“We often forget how ‘rich’ we are – we have homes, a job, friends and family,” explained project coordinator Wendy Combee. “We wanted to help make lives more inspiring and sustainable.”

The 172 volunteers – from Sales, R&D, Marketing, Finance, HR, Customer Services and Technical Services, plus support staff – worked hard on activities including painting, gardening, assembling furniture and outdoor play equipment, maintenance and cleaning. They also played with the children and enjoyed socializing with the adult refugees.

Jan Paul Drost said: “I found the afternoon very fulfilling. We achieved a lot of good work and it was great to see the faces of the refugees and the Casa Suraya team when they saw all the improvements we made.”

Emma Remartinez added: “The experience was incredible and the volunteers were exceptional. It’s important to go out and see this side of life.”