JNRC Director, Rev. Austin K. Rios (Bio)
After his time as a missionary, Rev. Rios served with the Diocese of Western North Carolina for seven years. In February 2012, he found his way to St. Paul’s Within the Walls, and has been here ever since. He invites all, visitor and refugee alike, to visit the center to see the amazing work that is being done here to serve the community. When asked about his time here at the center, he says, “Every day I am reminded of God’s call for us to welcome the stranger, and I am reminded that God chooses to welcome each one of us into relationship through Jesus Christ.”Rev. Austin Rios acts as the director of the JNRC, and leads the multilingual staff and parish of St. Paul’s Within the Walls Episcopal Church. He was born in the United States, but his calling has taken him all over the world. He graduated from Davidson College in 1999 with a B.A. in English, and then attended the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, where he graduated in 2003 with a M. Div. in Theology and Theological Studies. He then went on to serve as a missionary for the Young Adult Service Corps for a year in Veracruz, Mexico.
Daily Operations & Assistance Coordinator, Piero Rijtano (Bio)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Office: +39 06 488 333
I was born in Rome in 1972, where I obtained a scientific high school diploma, and where I studied philosophy and contemporary history at the “Università La Sapienza”. I have a four year old son, Simone, with my partner Valentina with whom I have been living for over ten years. Along with a passion for music that led me to work for years in this field as a DJ, promoter and events organizer, I maintained an active interest in human rights and social matters. I am a communicative person and a have a positive attitude to human relationships and to team work.
In May 2013 I took over from Tuana as Interim Coordinator for Refugee Services and I will do my best to make the JNRC a very welcoming and functional place to come, an oasis of peace for political refugees who arrive here from all over the world with very sad and difficult experiences.
Finance Officer, Simonetta Ciccolini (Bio)
Simonetta Ciccolini is from Rome, Italy. She has been volunteering with the JNRC for about 9 months. Though she serves as the full-time Finance Coordinator for St. Paul’s Within the Walls, she makes time in her busy week to volunteer in the Church’s center because it enriches her life and puts it in the right perspective. She says, “Even though it makes me sad at the same time, I enjoy listening to the guests stories and making them part of my life and work. Her favorite part of being a volunteer is that, “Even if what I do is very small, I feel useful in this work.”
Program Fundraiser, Annika Milisic-Stanley (Bio)
Annika grew up in Britain. After graduating in Social Anthropology from the London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies and Imperial College, she worked with humanitarian/ refugee projects in Nepal, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, India, Burundi and Egypt as well as living in Tajikistan for several years. Annika now lives with her husband and three children in Rome. In addition to painting, writing novels and short stories, she works as a campaigner for refugees and migrants.
Peacekeeper, Mansur (Bio)
Mansur is originally from Afghanistan and came to Italy in May of 2014. He studied computer science at Edwards College in Pakistan and has worked as a coordinator officer, logistic assistant, procurement assistant, and store keeper. He has been at the JNRC since November of 2016 as a peacekeeper, where he makes sure everyone is comfortable with each other and oversees any possible problems that could arise. His favorite part about working at the JNRC is being surrounded by the different cultures and getting to know the people of those cultures.
Peacekeeper, Mamadou (Bio)
Mamadou is originally from Gambia and came to Italy in 2014. He has been a peacekeeper at the JNRC since September of 2016. As a peacekeeper he helps the people within the Center and makes sure there is no trouble. In addition to working at the JNRC, he also goes to Arabic, Italian, and English school. He enjoys helping the Center remain peaceful while also having many different experiences between the cultures. His favorite part about the JNRC is interacting with the people and helping them throughout their day.
Student Group Coordinator, Ali (Bio)
Ali is from Afghanistan and has been in Italy since 2011. He speaks Farsi, English, Norwegian, Swedish, and Italian. He has been with the JNRC since November of 2016 where he works as the Student Group Coordinator and volunteers teaching computer lessons. His educational and professional background is in network and telecommunication engineering and is also self-employed outside the center. As one of the Student Group Coordinators, he shows the students around, helps them get adjusted, and helps them feel comfortable within the Center. He also teaches computer skills to the students while fixing various devices. His favorite part about being in the Center is helping the people who have been through similar experiences that he has had.
Student Group Coordinator, Rakin (Bio)
Rakeen was born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1983. He studied psychology for two years and is an author of three books. Rakeen is part of a group at the JNRC called “Artisans Together”. In this group they make handcrafts through recycled newspaper; for example: baskets, necklaces, and earrings. The group sells their pieces of art at local markets and shares the profits within the group. Rakeen is also the Student Group Coordinator. In this position he arranges different tasks and responsibilities for the groups he works with. Rakeen’s favorite part of the JNRC is working with different groups of people and helping the guests that visit the Center everyday.
Cook, Nasim (Bio)
Nasim was born in Afghanistan. He has worked in the Center since 2010 as a cook, making breakfast for the guests everyday. Nasim also helps to clean the center and keep things tidy. Nasim’s favorite part about working at the Center is being able to serve others and help as much as he can.
Volunteer, Yvette Manigold (Bio)
Yvette lives in Rome, but is originally from the United States of America. As a longtime parishioner at St. Paul’s Within the Walls, the JNRC has always been dear to her heart, but she has just started volunteering on a regular basis this year; she teaches English every Tuesday. There is so much we all can do! According to Yvette, the plight of refugees and other people in need has been something that God has been calling her to do for a long time. In the past, she contributed material things to the Center, but says, she never managed to “find the time” to volunteer, “family, work, and many timewasters kept me away.” This year, she finally decided, “no more excuses,” and am so glad she has given herself over to sharing her talent and time in the Center. Yvette’s favorite thing about the JNRC is how much it gives back. She says, “connecting with the people, you learn so much – about their countries, their difficulties, their courage, and their determination. Volunteering has blessed me!”
Volunteer, Sandra Venturini (Bio)
I started volunteering for the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center in 2008, after I came in contact with the Afghans living around the Ostiense station. Their living conditions were so appalling and inhumane that I decided to help this community in all possible ways. I started volunteering for a number of associations dealing with refugees, including JNRC. The Center was then run by a catholic nun, Sister Rose, who was both tough and sweet. My duties were varied, from distribution of razor blades and Italian conversation lessons, to accompanying small groups of refugees to a nearby church where they could take a shower and get clean clothes… on our way back I loved to go sightseeing with them inside Santa Maria Maggiore or eat a slice of pizza together … Over the years, many of the boys I met at the Center have become very good friends of mine, I follow up on their progress and we keep in contact. This Center has always been considered as a safe and generous place by them, a place where they could rest and entertain themselves in spite of their otherwise very hard lives …
I am full of gratitude to this Center for the opportunity to meet so many wonderful persons, both refugees and volunteers.
Volunteer, Molly Gage (Bio)
Molly Gage lives in Rome and is from the United States. She has been volunteering at the Center since May 2014 and looks forward to expanding the arts programming. Molly spent two years living in the bush of Niger, West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer and loves learning about different cultures. She feels very lucky to have found the Center and the philosophy of “radical hospitality”. She is grateful to all the guests and volunteers who have shared their stories and lives with her.
Psychotherapist, Monica Musri (Bio)
Monica, born in Argentina, has been living in Italy for the last 30 years. Coming from a family of migrants and being a migrant herself she has been committed to working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers since 1997 through her specialisation in the care of the victims of organised violence. She joined the JNRC’s Psychotherapy team in September 2013 where, in her words, she enjoys a cooperative and warm work environment, where guests are sheltered with great respect of their various cultures. Being an ardent admirer of Nelson Mandela, she strongly believes in his words, that to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.