Alice Sassu is an Italian documentary photographer and videographer. In 2008, she worked as an editor for a documentary about autistic disorder (funded by the Ethnographic Sardinian Institute). After obtaining a MA degree in Philosophy, in 2009 she received an European grant for making photo and video projects in Palestine. During this period, she has made different photographic projects and a video documentary called: This is Apartheid. Welcome. In 2010 she moved to Milan to study Photography in CFP Bauer, and in January 2013 she concluded MA internship at the Luz photo-journalistic agency (Milan). In 2013 she worked on the relation between the crisis and the housing issue. Within the project “Italy under Eviction” she described the harsh situation of several poor Italian families forcedly evicted their houses in Milan’s neighborhoods. In 2014 she made a documentary film in a tourist town of Sardinia focused on several families illegally occupying municipal buildings in a state of neglect. Her photographic work has appeared in DerSpiegel, Foto8, Verve Photo, Witness Journal, Gioia, Popoli, Redattore Sociale. Now she is working in Kolkata (India).
Pagi is a migrant soccer team in Saridinia, one of the poorest regions in Italy, but a place where migrants were welcomed by immigration centers as a response to the immigrants’ needs, mostly boys from Sub-Saharan Africa.
All asylum seekers want to find a job, however it is very difficult for them to do so in one of the poorest regions of Italy. For this reason the Cooperative decided to create this team to motivate and help these boys, who fled from wars, hunger and poverty that find themselves playing around a ball.
In Sassari, north of Sardinia, one of these centers called "Centro di Prima Accoglienza di Predda Niedda" created the football club ASD PAGI to help with the integration of young migrant boys.
Later, this club was officially registered in the second amateurs league. This is the first case in Italy in which a football club, entirely composed of immigrants without a residence permit and seeking international protection, has obtained from the FGC (Italian Football Federation) authorization to participate in the regional championship.
The immigration center was a hotel before, and it was called "Hotel Pagi". Nowadays, it is managed by the Cooperative ASD which created the football club ASD PAGI. It is the new home of approximately three hundred boys, most of whom come from different Sub-Saharan African countries like Nigeria, Gambia, Senegal, Togo and Mali. All of them are waiting the result of the Territorial Commission; the process can be concluded with the recognition of refugee status or subsidiary protection status, or a rejection, against which the applicant may appeal.
When I started this project I set out to show a hidden side of life Italy today, a side out of the media glare. This is the story about the families of migrants and Italians facing the crisis with unemployment, high costs of life, and the precarious situation of losing the basic right to housing.
Technically, it’s called “guilty arrearage” and ends in eviction because of the poverty of the inhabitants. In 2013 in Italy 250.000 families risk this to happen to them, that’s an average of 140 evictions a day, almost 6 each hour. In the following years this phenomenon could even be more widespread due to the abolition of public support (“Fondo sostegno affitto nazionale”), which has been helping more than 350.000 families pay their rents. Even as the pressure on housing in the social emergency rise some 5.000 public houses remain empty, waiting to be surveyed and brought up to standard to be inhabited, and that’s just in the city of Milan.
I’ve built a close relation with several families and followed their stories from the notification of eviction to the day itself and being pushed out. Often the police and legal officers prevent me doing my work so I turn my focus to the other aspects of these stories, particulars that can reveal the dramatic experiences going on in these families lives. After the eviction, in fact, some families were rehoused temporarily, others went to cheeap hotels with the support of the municipality, but many others had no other choice than to sleep on the street while they await decisions being made on access to public social housing (which they have right to).
Many stories are focused on women who had only a part time jobs or no job at all, like Letizia, Maria, Cadija, Edy, Pina, Genny and Pina Cortese who we see in my photographs, all struggling to pay their rent, many have lost that battle already.
Cadija is from Morocco, she’s been living in Italy for 8 years. She’s unemployed and has a 17 years-old son. Cadija has already received three eviction notifications. Cadija has not received news of her husband, a Syrian national who went back to his homeland before the war started. She lost her job and now she hopes to received public social housing before eviction day.
Letizia experienced eviction in January. She has a 15 years-old daughter and her part time income does not allow her to pay the full rent. After the eviction she received a small flat to live, thanks to a local community association, but this solution is temporary and she hopes to receive full public social housing soon.
Maria has lost her job recently and was evicted from her home two months ago. Now she’s hosted in an emergency shelter run by a local organization. Edy was evicted last December and has a new born baby girl only a few months old. The society for whom she was working did not pay her salary for many months and in few months time her contract will change from full time to part time so her salary will decrease. Now she is staying at a friend’s apartment.
Pina is living at the first floor of a building without an elevator, she is severly disabled and has received her eviction notice.
Genny is living in the same building. She has no regular job and she has a chiold with special physical needs who can not live with her because of the lack of facilities in the house. She is expecting eviction soon.
Pina Cortese is 28 years old and she works in a shop in the city centre. A local committee of inhabitants protested and halted her eviction for the moment.
There are also stories of people who leave the country they have chosenre-migration to return to their place of birth, because of the lost of job and housing. This is the case for Peppe, a 53 year-old man living in the North of Italy for many years and now returning to Naples because of the loss of his job, the difficulty to find a new one, and the eviction that happened last January.
A similar story is that of a family from Egypt who have been living in Italy for the past 8 years. When Mohamed lost his job and his wife lost her permit to stay because she lost her job too, they decided to return to Egypt, just few days before they were evicted.
The families with many members are the most vulnerable, families of up to 6 often live in a 40 square metre apartment with little or no means to apply to public housing to relocate. The Mauhay family, Arnold, Mardy and their children Adrian, Alessa and Angel, were living in a house in the north of Milan. The building was very badly maintained, the stairs had no lights and the dangerous electric wiring affected their house. After their eviction they are living in a hotel with the support of the municipality.
Valeria and Mario were the guardians of a villa belongiong to a rich family in Milan. After they lost their jobs they found themselves, at the age of 60 unemployed like their two 30-year-old sons. After the eviction they are seeking support from a local organization.
Kumara and Mary are, as many others, victims of the illegal rent black marke). As they are undocumented migrants it is impossible for them to register without permits for a housing contract. When they tried to ask to the house owner to give them a proper lease he increase the rent. They were unable to pay and soon after received an eviction notification. Now Kumara is living in his car, and Mary is hosted in a protection housing with their son, Nathaka.
Flavio, Rosaria and Nancy are a young family. Flavio has no regular job and Rosaria is a teacher with an unstable contract. Two months ago a committee of local residents protested their evicition and won a temporary stay for the family.
The Al Badaui family is composed of Ayman and Abir, Maram, Mariam, Mohamed and the little Samer. Abir does not speak Italian and takes care of the house and family while Ayman works as a cleaner at the airport. When his working hours were reduced he became unable to pay his rent so they received an eviction notification. The committee of residents in their block organized a sit-in and their eviction has been postponed. The family has some chance to receive a public social house, but, as Ayman told me, the solidarity his family has received from the local residents has given them the most support, restoring their strength and their sense of humanity.
When I started this project I set out to show a hidden side of life Italy today, a side out of the media glare. This is the story about the families of migrants facing the crisis with unemployment, high costs of life, and the precarious situation of losing the basic right to housing.
Technically, it's called “arrearage innocent”: it consists in people being evicted because with their scarce income they are unable to pay the rent. In 2013 in Italy 250.000 families risk this to happen to them, that's an average of 140 evictions a day, almost 6 each hour. In the following years this phenomenon could even be more widespread due to the abolition of public support (“Fondo sostegno affitto nazionale”), which has been helping more than 350.000 families pay their rents.
The families with many members are the most vulnerable, families of up to 6 often live in a 40 square metre apartment with little or no means to apply to public housing to relocate.
The Mauhay family is from Philippines. Arnold, Mardy and their children Adrian, Alessa and Angel, were living in a house in the north of Milan. Arnold and Mardy are from the Philippines but living in Italy for 10 years, Arnold worked as a warehouseman for an important Italian brand and Mardy is a domestic worker. They say that working hours have decreased, while expenditure increases, in particular weigh children's school and the canteen.
The building was very badly maintained, the stairs had no lights and the dangerous electric wiring affected their house. After their eviction they are living in a hotel with the support of the municipality. While they are waiting for the "Aler" (private entity for the management of public housing) to define their position, the municipality of Milan will take over the temporary accommodation in hotel for Mardy and his sons, but Arnold will have to pay for his stay until the final assignment. They are waiting for many months the allocation of public housing.
Kumara and Mary are from Sri Lanka. They as many others, victims of the illegal rent black market. As they are undocumented migrants it is impossible for them to register without permits for a housing contract. It is estimated that in Italy between 500 thousand and one million apartments are rented in black, resulting in a high tax evasion. For legal immigrants, in fact, the registration of the lease is required to obtain residence and renewal of the residence permit. When Kumara and Mary tried to ask to the house owner to give them a proper lease he increase the rent. They were unable to pay and soon after received an eviction notification. Now Kumara is living in his car, and Mary is hosted in a protection housing with their son, Nathaka.
During the realization I've built a close relation with several families. In the beginning I tried to follow their stories from the notification to the eviction, but when the police and the legal officer avoid me to take photos during these moments, I had focus my attention on other aspects of their stories, like details that could reveal the dramatic experience they were experiencing.
After the eviction, in fact, some families went to hosting structures, another part moved to hotels with the support of the municipality, while many others had no other choice but to sleep on the streets while they wait for a public social house (which they are entitled to). The municipality pays for a hotel accommodation only when the evicted families ask for an emergency procedure. If their request is judged positively, then they receive a temporary accommodation before of their housing project apartment.
While social emergency demands increase rapidly, just in the city of Milan 5.000 public houses remain empty, waiting to be surveyed and put in condition to be inhabited.
ShortDoc by Alice Sassu and Francesco Pistilli
A positive story of sports and integration coming from Sardinia, Sassari. Boys who fled from wars, hunger and poverty have ended up playing with a ball.
In Sardinia, one of the poorest regions in Italy, migrants are welcomed at immigration centres as a response to their emergency condition. The former "Hotel Pagi", located in the industrial area of the city, is now the "Centro di Prima Accoglienza di Predda Niedda", directed by the ASD Cooperative. Pierpaolo Cermelli, Fabiana Denurra and a cultural mediator, named Ali Bouchouata, have decided to create a football team to motivate the young boys and to promote their social integration. The "ASD Pagi" team, coached by Mauro Fanti, faces now the final stages of the championship, in the second regional division.
For the first time in the Italian history, an immigration centre gets approval from the Italian Football Game Federation to participate in a regional football league with a team entirely comprised by asylum seekers, waiting for a residence permission.
The centre homes approximately three hundred young people from different countries in sub-Saharan Africa (such as Nigeria, Gambia, Senegal, Togo, Mali). Some of these people ran away from family feuds, religious conflicts and dictatorial governments. Some others found themselves without a family, or are simply looking to change their "luck". But they all dream with starting a new life in Europe.
Pending on the resolution of the Territorial Commission, these asylum seekers follow the legal steps of a process that will finish with one the following possible outcomes: a recognition of their refugee status, a subsidiary or humanitarian protection, or their deportation. The bureaucracy is way too slow, and the majority of them must wait at least two or three years to know their fate. Meanwhile, some of them try to defy the football teams of one of the poorest regions of Italy.
After traveling thousands of miles across multiple countries, the players of ASD Pagi use their soccer matches as a temporary escape and a way to forget that they are still in search of a permanent home. Running on their dusty field with their teammates offers a sense of freedom and, perhaps more importantly, a temporary family.
Part of the Nigerian team on the bench. Sometimes the ASD Pagi football club organizes friendly games with another team composed of others migrants hosted in the same Immigration Centre.
Konate Adama, 18, is from Ivory Coast. Adama lost his parents during the Ivory Coast war (2011). He lived with his uncle, however when he decided to sell the land of the family, Adama and his brother refused and they had to escape. He left his country and in his journey crossed Burkina Faso, Niger until to Libya.
Frank Ugbaja, 21 years-old, from Nigeria. He lost his father and two sisters in a bomb attack by Boko Haram. Nigeria's militant Islamist group Boko Haram - which has caused havoc in Africa's most populous country through a wave of bombings, assassinations and abductions - is fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state. Frank escaped and started the long journey to Libya and later to Europe.
Part of the Nigerian team on the bench. Sometimes the ASD Pagi football club organizes friendly games with another team composed of others migrants hosted in the same Immigration Centre.
Vincenzo, a worker in the centre, is playing with some refugees in the atrium. All of the employees are well integrated with all 300 refugees of the centre.
Alhagie Amadou Jallow, 24 years old, was born in Gambia. One day, he was kidnapped by secret agents in Gambia, tortured, and accused of being part of the regime's opposition. Alhagie was kidnapped by secret agents in Gambia, tortured, and accused of being part of the regime's opposition. They had recorded a chat with a friend where he was talking about the regime. Gambiaâs president Yahya Jammeh is frequently accused of human rights abuses, extra-judicial killings, torture and the muzzling of journalists. Jallo escaped and started the long journey to Libya and later to Europe. In Sicily he was accused of being a smuggler only because he was helping to save the lives of everyone on the boat. Jallo lived for some months in a jail in Sicily and was then released and transferred to the immigration centre in Sassari. Now, Jallo is waiting for the recognition of international protection, he knows a little Italian and he is helping the coach by translating in English, French, Mandinka and Wolof for all the players.
Asylum seekers on the field in Caniga, a suburb of Sassari, where they train and will play the championship match.
Many of the team members have traveled a long way to get here. Yusuf Lawal spent two months in transit to reach Italy.
Cinthya Collins nursing her baby during a match of Pagi's football club at the home field. Cinthya was hosted in an immigration centre in the South of Sardinia while she was pregnant and her husband Collins was living at the centre in Sassari. The baby will be born in Sassari this July and now they are living all together in Sassari. Collins is a player at Pagi's football club.
18 year-old Yousuf Lawal and 20 year-old Victory Fgene both traveled to Italy via Libya from Nigeria. Victory's mother was killed by his father, he said. Today, he is ASD Pagi's best player.
Part of the ASD Pagi team on the bench. They played at home and lost the game. The team began training only a month before the beginning of the regional football league season.
Sometimes ASD Pagi will play other teams composed of refugees. For Orobosa Andrew, an ASD player, and Collins, a fellow refugee playing on another team, itâs a chance to reconnect.
ASD Pagi home open was a tough game, mainly because the team had only been able to begin training one month before the beginning of the season.
Mousa Balde, 18, fled Senegal because he said his family's Christian faith was not tolerated in their predominantly Muslim community. Omar Kartu, also 18, fled the Gambia when his brother, a member of the national military, ran afoul of the country's dictator Yahya Jammeh, he said.
The team's matches draw in a mix of local and refugee spectators. For many of the migrants housed at the center, waiting is a common activity as they cannot leave the center for more than two days at a time and cannot look for work until their applications for refugee or protected status are approved.
Mousa Balde, 18 years old, from Senegal and Omar Kartu, 18 years old, from Gambia are members of the football club Asd Pagi. Mousa left his country for religious issues. All of his community is Muslim but his mother and Mousa are Christians and their lives were in danger. Like most people from Gambia, Omar has had political problems with the military government of Yahya Jammeh. His brother is in the military and did something the regime is angry with and they were no longer safe.
Nigerian boys on the lay-by of the Centre. The day after, they had to play with the official football club Pagi. Sometimes the ASD Pagi football club organizes friendly games with another team composed of other migrants hosted in the same Immigration Centre.
Asylum seekers outside the entrance of the immigration centre where almost 300 refugees seeking international protection are living. Most of them come from Sub-Saharan countries like Nigeria, Gambia, Senegal, Togo and Mali.
Mujeeb Adebisi, 19 years-old, from Nigeria. Mujeed was football player in his country. Mujeed lost his sister in a car accident in which he was the driver. After her death he faced many problems in the neighbourhood and had to leave. Mujeeb during his journey north he has passed through Niger before arriving in Libya. In Libya he was kidnapped and had to live for two months in a small room with many other refugees. Mujeeb is a new player for the all-refugee football club "ASD Pagi".
With Sardinia already one of Italy's poorest regions, it is challenging for refugees to find a job. Sometimes they are reduced to begging for change from passerby.
Part of the all-migrant football team living inside an immigration centre in a suburb of Sassari, in Sardinia, Italy. Sometimes the ASD Pagi football club organizes friendly games with other teams composed of refugees at other immigration centres.
Compared to other regional teams, ASD Pagi sometimes struggles to practice before the season begins. At the season opener, they played on their home field but lost.
Scifo Mohamed Diallo inside the immigration centre. Scifo, 19 years-old, is from Conarky, Guinea. He lost his entire family during the stadium massacre in September 2009. The massacre was lead by military junta Captain Moussa Dadis Camara. Security forces raped, killed, and wounded protesters during a protest rally in the stadium. Scifo survived, living on the streets in Senegal fro two years until he decided to start the long journey to Libya. After two years working in Libya, he planned the journey by boat to Europe. Now, Scifo is waiting for the result of the Territorial Commission and plays in the Pagi football club.
At Centro di Prima Accoglienza di Predda Niedda, Nigerian boys are playing football on the lay-by. There are almost 100 Nigerians inside this centre. Most of them have received the first negative response by the Territorial Commission. The process can be concluded with the recognition of refugee status, subsidiary protection status, or a rejection, against which the applicant may appeal.