One man set up Citta Futura (City of the Future) with the ambition to both help the refugees and revive what was then a dying rural village. That man later became mayor: Domenico Lucano, whom everyone affectionately calls Mimmo.
Taking in refugees allowed the village to preserve basic public services such as schools, but also shops and businesses that had virtually disappeared, Lucano said: “The arrival of these people fueled dynamics that created hope. For the people who arrived, but also for the people here.”
Riace’s population has since more than tripled to 2,800, among whom are 400 immigrants of more than 20 nationalities. It’s a fortunate turn of events, say longtime residents whose own path is often one of exile.
Daniel Yaboah arrived in Riace from Ghana six years ago. He’s in charge of garbage collection in the village. He says he hopes to stay as long as possible in the village that welcomed him and his family.
“This town means a lot to me. The people here are very good people. They are kind to everybody, There is no discrimination. So I’m very happy here,” he said.