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ROME: The University of Florence has launched a fundraising initiative to help its 40 Afghan students.

All the donations collected in this nationwide campaign will be used to subsidize the students’ fees, their accommodation, and all expenses to buy the necessary materials — such as books — to complete their degrees in Italy.

The campaign began this week, and according to the rector’s office it has already had a positive response, with donations coming mostly from Florence but also from several university alumni living abroad. 

Most of the Afghan students are studying history, archaeology, geography and art. Some are following graduate and postgraduate courses in agricultural engineering.

“They’ve been doing great in their studies so far. What happened back home mustn’t stop their education, and we all want to do our part so they can finish their studies in serenity,” Florence Mayor Dario Nardella told Arab News.

Rector Alessandra Petrucci told Arab News: “The entire academic community of the University of Florence has been following with attention the developments of the Afghan emergency, and we all intend to show in a concrete way that we remain close to our students coming from that country to get their higher education here with this fundraising.”

She said: “Since the crisis broke in Afghanistan, those students have been kind of stuck here in Florence. They struggle with the complex logistics of those who don’t know what to do or what to expect in their immediate future, while their thoughts are with their families, stuck in their country, and with whom it’s often difficult even to get in touch via WhatsApp.”

Petrucci added: “Many of them experience problems staying here, to pay rent as money can’t come from home for multiple reasons. At least with this (fundraising) initiative, we hope they’ll find some confidence to carry on with their education and build a better future, for their families back home and for their nation.”

The university is also promoting a permanent initiative involving Florence City Council, Careggi Hospital and Croas Toscana, the regional guild of social workers, to support the Afghan students’ social integration into the city.

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