Helping ex-convicts rehabilitate in society

Walking to the peak of Bisbino, a mountain 1325 meters high on the border between Como (Italy) and Switzerland, is made possible by ex-convicts and our colleagues from Powder Coatings in Como.

The association ‘Amici del Bisbino’ (Friends of Bisbino), situated in Cernobbio, Como, takes care of environmental protection, events organization and cooperation with different institutions.

In 2007 the Association decided to promote a new project in close cooperation with the house of detention in Como. By having ex-convicts perform public tasks they would have a better chance of being rehabilitated in society. A project was set up, linking ex-convicts to Monte Bisbino, by having them clean up the 8-10 kms long path to the top. Also involved were the Italian Civil Defence organization, the Corps of Foresters, Red Cross, local institutions that take care of transfers and supervision of the ex-convicts and local inhabitants that provide meals, equipment etc. The result was very successful and it was decided to continue the project.

Our colleagues from Powder Coatings in Como also got involved as volunteers assisting during transfers from the prison to the workplace and supervising the ex-convicts while cleaning the path. With support from the Community Program the workers are equipped with the tools to perform the maintenance tasks and also meals are provided when they take them to lunch in an Alpine hut.

During 15 days the entire zone, which has a high environmental impact, is cleaned up. The ex-convicts regard this opportunity as an occasion of redemption and are now called the ’Guardians of Bisbino’. The operation is seen as a win-win situation for all involved: the ex-convicts can work in the open air and they have a chance to make themselves useful for the community, creating an opportunity to return to society. As one of the volunteering employees said: ‘It is a good example for everybody and we hope that this project could only be the beginning to improve our sense of responsibility and move our social awareness.’