For Friends of “Casale del Rio”
I am Esohe Aghatise, Director of Iroko Onlus. I would like to tell you a story. A story of hope and of the will to act – to do something, which started a long time ago, at the end of March 2004, to be precise. In that period, I was searching for a place in the country that would offer me some peace and quiet.
Something, I can’t say what, took me to visit a small village in the Province of Alessandria, the village of Villamiroglio. Here, in the hamlet of Vallegioliti, I found what I was looking for: a jewel of a country house built in the 1700s, buried in the green plains reminiscent of Tuscany, which inspired a great idea in me. An idea that immediately proved to be difficult to implement, much as its size. But we all love challenges and so I will try to explain what that idea is.
In our work providing services to survivors of sex trafficking, of gender based violence and to the women and youths we serve, one of the challenges we need to resolve is to find a decent job that can help them achieve the coveted autonomy and thus, independence from continuous welfare support. The country house above, which we called “Casale del Rio” (River House) because of the river that runs through the property, and which was loaned to our charity for free use, soon projected us onto the idea of creating a multi-purpose centre that could offer not only employment possibilities to some of the women and youths served by our charity but also a feasible solution to the difficulty of obtaining funds for our activities, besides also becoming a home for some of the women and youths. A place of peace and serenity, of rest and of exchange, of coexistence and of reflection, of work, of intercultural and intellectual exchange, of openness to the world from a protected and welcoming shell, which could help the women and youths overcome the trauma they have suffered.
The project to transform the country house into a multi-purpose centre includes a hospitality business of the Bread & Breakfast type, catering services providing cuisine typical of the area, combined with the multiethnic value that guests could bring to such cuisine; recreational facilities for the public; conference rooms for seminars and training courses; conversion of the four acres of land, which belongs to the country house to organic farm land and subsequently, the processing and marketing of its products; training courses in organic farming, catering in indigenous local and foreign cuisine and food preservation using local and imported methods. Other activities include sewing and tailoring services and training, artisan training and handmade creations, as well as courses in Italian and English languages, computer science, the promotion of civic education for adults and adolescents, awareness raising and information on the different phenomena related to gender based violence, sex trafficking and exploitation in the context of prevention. Our aim is also to include art exhibitions and concerts of emerging musicians from the territory and beyond, and the promotion of rural walk ways and horse riding paths for the exploration of the territory of the Province of Alessandria.
In all these years, the difficulty has always been that of obtaining sufficient funds to complete and carry out this idea. We have done a lot towards renovating the house, but much more still needs to be done.
That is why I now turn to you, friends, volunteers, employees and collaborators of IROKO and institutions that operate in the charity/social enterprise businesses, to ask you to lend a hand to make this great dream reality. I believe that, putting together diverse skills and resources, it will be possible to achieve this great goal on which we have been working for years. I firmly believe that together with you this result can be achieved.
What do you think?
The first step is to come on a tour of the country house, at the junction between the three Provinces of Alessandria, Vercelli and Turin. It would be great to create a working group that we can call “Friends of Casale del Rio“, that can identify possible funding opportunities, professionals willing to donate some of their time to the project – as has already happened for the project construction and design phase).
Our invitation is open to all, because we hope that the Casale del Rio can soon become an open, hospitable place, where everyone can express their skills, and above all, that it can become the place through which every woman, child and youth in difficulty can achieve their personal dreams and aspirations.
This can only be possible with your help.
With the sincere hope of being able to work together on this exciting project,
I salute you