Sri Lanka’s Alex Van Arkadie is providing a lifeline to migrant workers in Italy by helping them smash the language barrier courtesy of free Italian lessons.Since 2009 he has been teaching the language in both English and Sinhala for workers from Sri Lanka and other countries who are based around the Casal Palocco area in Rome.
Arkadie has been living in Italy for 40 years. He also launched the first Italian-Sinhala language book to help his compatriots succeed as expats in Italy, where an estimated 50,000 Sri Lankans have moved in search of jobs.He volunteers through Caritas Italy in San Timoteo of Casal Palocco, about 2 kilometers from the coastal belt just south of Rome.Caritas, the Catholic Church’s social arm, has been giving Sri Lankan migrant workers in the Middle East a helping hand for years.Arkadie’s primary aim is to help jobseekers communicate with their employers in the local language.
His Italian-Sinhala language book Viva I’Italia! (Long live Italy!) was recently published by the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement. University academics, Archbishop Oswald Gomis, Christian priests and laymen attended the book launch on Jan. 31 in Negombo.Father Oswald B. Firth, a peace activist who used to work in Italy, said Arkadie helps Sri Lankan migrant workers and other Catholics prepare all the necessary documents so they can stay in the country legally.