This message is written outside the gate of the Garibaldi school in Rome where a solidarity civic collection is still in progress. And it was also written on a basket suspended in an alley, dropped from a balcony, in Naples. And who knows where else in Italy. “Chi può metta, chi non può prenda” – “Who can put, who cannot take.” Only six words, like notes, that sing the beautiful and resolute and stubborn spirit of our country.
During the quarantine an unprecedented sense of kindness mixed with sincere empathy developed in the country. The lockdown put a strain on us. Physically distant but closer. Solidarity above all. With those who are in serious economic conditions or psychologically fragile. In recent months there have been numerous solidarity initiatives throughout Italy – beyond the fundraisers promoted by the Italian Red Cross and Civil Protection (always distinguished by their inexhaustible work in an emergency situation).
In fact, an efficient “proximity network” has developed, a sort of chain of human aid that has activated itself spontaneously and has involved both small and larger centers. Unions of simple citizens. From those who just dropped baskets from the terraces of Naples to those who gave birth to neighborhood collections in schools. Many grass-roots initiatives. Among them “Solidarity condominiums” stands out. It’s aim is to bring groceries to the elderly who cannot go out, go to the pharmacy and, if necessary, queue up at the post office in their place. In many neighborhoods, not only in schools but also individual shops, there are banquets where you can leave basic necessities for families in need. ‘Who can put, who cannot take’: this is precisely the leitmotif of these small spontaneous great mobilizations. Testimony of a great civic sense. Of the turmoil in Italy by voluntary associations, very active in this period. Normal people working in the area to offer support to those who found themselves unarmed, either alone or without work, because of the emergency.
In April, the solidarity trend is estimated to have increased by thirty times compared to March. Many associations faced proliferated needs. An example is the Roman Nonna Rosa, active for years in the suburbs of the capital in support of poor citizens at risk of marginalization: in the basement room of Via Prenestina 286, the families to be hosted have multiplied for about a month. The association’s mutual aid counter, in the last weekend of April, distributed 1096 parcks, for 2718 families. Almost ten thousand people to whom this aid has been directed. Merit of many other families, very common, who have given meaning and substance to the collection. They, ordinary people, who are the true meaning and substance of Italian solidarity.
Civic initiatives naturally run on social networks too. The idea of Valentina Salerno was born in Rome and grew throughout Italy: “one call, one smile”. Valentina has decided to offer “emotional assistance” to all those people, first and foremost the elderly, who in the absence of contacts with their family members feel left out. Thanks to her initiative, today an elderly person receives a call from ‘his’ personal volunteer. A daily and recognizable voice that becomes family. A precious call, to be heard. Sixty pairs of friends have already been born, hundreds of thousands of words of comfort. A simple idea after all, and that is why it’s so extraordinary.