South Asian Diaspora in Fondi

Andrew Diprose spent his high school years in Fondi, Italy, in the 80s. Back then who could have imagined having a sizeable population of Indians in Fondi? The only brown or black faces then were Italian farmers tanned by working in the sun and a handful of Tunisian and Moroccan migrants.

Fast track to the current millennium. In 2015, just after his father’s death, Andrew returned to the area for a visit and found a sizeable population of South Asians in the province of Latina, of which Fondi is part. Indians in San Felice Circeo and Terracina, Bangladeshis in the historical part of Terracina and news of a significant Pakistani presence in Fondi. What he didn’t know was how many Indians and Pakistanis would be living there in Fondi 5 years later.

Andrew and Patrizia came here in August 2020. Their ministry is concentrated in Fondi, a town of less than 40 thousand people, where the economy has rendered many European descent people wealthy through the use of indentured labour in the greenhouses where they or their parents used to work. There are probably at least 2000 Indians here.

Pakistanis and Indians are the main source of labour on Fondi’s farms, along with a few West Africans. Many migrants, as elsewhere in Central and Southern Italy, are irregular and potentially vulnerable to exploitation. The work is backbreaking, the wages poor – in some cases €150 a week at most – and often employers are violent and abusive. Not an ideal situation for trying to share the Good News. Understandably many Indians and Pakistanis, though they are employed by Italians (nominal Christians), only trust their own people, people from their own nation, people adhering to Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism.

In order to gain their trust, relationships must be developed and communication of the Gospel must be sensitive and in a language they can understand. In addition to many commitments in a tiny Italian church of less than 20 members, Andrew and Patrizia are taking food parcels at least once every two months to a few Pakistani families and two Indian couples (one Sikh and one Hindu). As well as the physical food, the parcels sometimes contain Gospel leaflets in the language of the family who is receiving the parcel.

Teaching Italian language, especially to women, is also being pursued, twice a week in Fondi to women from Pakistan and India and several times a week to a heterogeneous group of people from India, Bangladesh, Egypt and other nations (both men and women) by another worker named Alessandro, in the hall of a small Italian church group in San Felice Circeo. Some of the women in Fondi, back in August, watched a multi media Gospel presentation in Punjabi. Patrizia and a local school teacher named Carmelina continue to teach them, sometimes reading portions of the book of Ruth in Italian.

Short termers from the Diaspora who are followers of Jesus and who speak and/or write Punjabi or Urdu would be welcome to come and help for a few weeks (up to 3 months).You will need to pay your own way.

For more information contact us through info@southasianconcern.org

Thanks for praying for the work in Fondi.

Andrew Diprose is a multi-cultural consultant and resource person who has been working amongst South Asians in Italy for over 20 years. His wife Patrizia is a trained nurse, involved in various ministries as well as caring for the family.