Home > Archives > 02 - 2004 > The Arsenal of Peace
from issue no. 02 - 2004

SCHEDA. Where and how SERMIG operates

The Arsenal of Peace

by Paolo Mattei

SERMIG, the Youth Missionary Service, founded in 1964 by Ernesto Olivero, has its headquarters in Turin, in the Arsenal of Peace, a former arms factory, restructured from 1983. Open around the clock, the Arsenal is a place of prayer and of work where volunteers look after the day and night welcome of the needy, the distribution of meals, the maintenance of the building, the medical care of the poor, the running of courses in the School for artisan restorers and in the “Laboratory of sound”. In 1996 a “corresponding” structure was opened in San Paolo in Brazil, the Arsenal of Hope, a building used before then to quarantine emigrants from Europe and which today daily welcomes more than two thousand people taken from poverty and the streets, to whom are offered hot meals, night lodgings, medical care and work training and help to rejoin society. In 2003, at the invitation of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Arsenal of the Meeting-Center Queen of Peace was founded in Jordan, where the poor and disabled are welcomed, whether Moslem or Christian. In its forty years of existence, SERMIG has accumulated almost 19 million hours of voluntary offerings; 4 and a half million nights of hospitality to people and families; 10 million meals distributed; 3,780 tons of equipment, medicines, food and clothing dispatched, equivalent to the payload of 344 planes. The total economic value of these and many other activities undertaken is estimated at 386 million euro, almost entirely the result of voluntary contributions by ordinary people.
The facade of the Arsenal of Peace in Turin

The facade of the Arsenal of Peace in Turin

SERMIG has also completed a hundred peace missions, bringing essential aid to countries devastated by war, such as Vietnam, Lebanon, Iraq, Rwanda, Somalia, former Yugoslavia and the Holy Land. In the Middle East area alone 58 million eurosworth of materials, money and transport were delivered.
From 1964 to 2003 Olivero’s volunteers have carried out - through the work of 256 people, including researchers, technicians, professionals and artisans belonging to the International Cooperative for Development – 1,821 humanitarian projects, to the value of 155 million euro, in 82 countries, either in the form of studies and projects aimed at self-development, or in the form of prime necessity aid to for populations and single individuals.
SERMIG’s most recent initiative was the creation of the University of Dialogue, an “itinerant university”, named after Cardinal François Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân, aimed at giving a voice to young people and to training them up to peace and justice.

Italiano Español Français Deutsch Português