1. Cécile Kyenge – Italy’s former integration minister
Very few people would have the strength to withstand the virulent racist attacks levelled against Cécile Kyenge during her time as integration minister. She was well aware that becoming Italy’s first black minister in 2013 would expose her to racist abuse, but she took on the challenge nonetheless, while dismissing her attackers as being among a small group of ignorant people. She made time to speak to The Local in October, during which she talked about Italy’s new citizenship bill, which she worked hard to pull together despite living what were probably her toughest years. Kyenge is an inspiration at all levels and is thoroughly deserving of the number one spot. Read the full interview here.
2. Rakeen Akila, an Afghan refugee in Rome
Photo: The Local Italy
When Rakeen Akila was interviewed by The Local in September, he struggled with emotion to tell his story, which included him being held captive in Afghanistan and his entire family – including his seven-year-old sister – being shot dead. As conflicts in the Middle East rage on, Rakeen’s story forced us to look beyond the narrative and stop and think about the very human toll of the refugee crisis. We also got more insight into the struggles, aside from coping with the loss of family and the psychological impact after having their world turned upside down, refugees face when trying to get on in their adopted homes. Click here to read Rakeen's story.
3. Virginia Giugno, chief of staff at Pozzallo town hall
Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
Another inspirational person to emerge from the refugee crisis is Virginia Giugno, who works for the town hall in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo, a focal arrival point for thousands of migrants. The Local visited the town in the summer and interviewed both Giugno and Mayor Luigi Ammatuna. For the last few years, Giugno, herself a mother of two, has been taking care of children who arrive alone, becoming a legal guardian for hundreds in 2014. She spoke to The Local about her concerns for the thousands of children who arrive in Italy and then disappear. Read more here.
Ammatuna should also be credited for his work with refugees this year, especially as mayors in the north kicked up a fuss about providing accommodation in their areas. In a separate interview, Ammatuna told us his northern counterparts were “heartless and selfish”.
4. Daniele Ratti, startup millionaire
Photo provided by Daniele Ratti
Daniele Ratti only graduated this summer but the 23-year-old from Bergamo is not facing the anxious months, or years, of job hunting that await many of his peers having become a millionaire in September after selling his startup business.
“I worked morning, evening and nights,” he told The Local. “Sometimes with just a break for lunch and one for dinner.”
Ratti's story is one of incredible success at such a young age, and especially in the face of so many economic and bureaucratic challenges in Italy. Read more here.
5. Marco Amoretti, explorer
Photo provided by Marco Amoretti
Ever dreamt of circumnavigating Italy in a car-boat? Probably not. But having already crossed the Atlantic in a floating car in the late 1990s, Marco Amoretti is up for the challenge. He spoke to The Local in October about his incredible journey and why he’s repeating the adventure around Italy. Click here to read more.