«I have never questioned myself why. I just do it. There were times in my life when it really helped me. Getting to know other people’s problems, you think less about yours. I feel useful and this makes me feel good». Rosalba Martone is from Sant’Antonio Abate but she has lived in La Spezia for 21 years and over the past 20 years she has been volunteering every Saturday afternoon with Missione 2000, an association dedicated to food distribution to homeless people.

«I started when my two sons were going to catechism classes, I wanted to play my part in helping people and I never quit. I did my best to best organise my work as a beautician and all the daily life apppointments.

Before the pandemic we had around 30 seats available around the table. Because of the Covid we started distributing food in take away packages and numbers have raised, we distributed up to 50/70 packs. It’s not only homeless people who benefits from our service, but also unemployed struggling to have food to eat. Some of them come with their children to whom we give candies and cookies».

Through her commitment she got to know many people whose stories are extremely touching and hard to forget, such as that of Andrej*. Back in 2007, on a Saturday, he came to collect his meal. «I remember he was young, younger than 30 and toothless. He was from Eatern Europe, a carpenter. He had argued with his father and cut ties with his whole family. He had nothing. One day he asked me if I could wash his clothes so on Saturday, together with his meal, I gave him the laundry. He drunk a lot. I managed to persuade him to get help and to go sleeping at the Caritas’ dorm. He went to rehab and later he moved to a different place where he got a job».

«People do not always accept to change. Sometimes they are afraid. I have met a girl, many years ago, she had a 6 month-old baby. She lived on the street with her boyfriend. She was afraid of standing up. That winter night it was raining heavily, her baby was sick, he had cough and she asked me to have him over for the night. I could not turn her down. She gave me nappies, milk and his food. She would have came back to collect him in the morning. She never did. Helped by the social services and the Local Health Authority, we managed to have him vaccinated and we brought him to a foster home where he was adopted. She did not even tried to change her life, not even for her son. She stayed on the street».  «I truly believe that the aim in life is to leave a mark, to leave something good to others and to show them the best part of you. This is the reason why I keep giving my time to Missione 2000 and I have recently started volunteering in prison. I would do more if I could».

Rosalba Martone is one of the volunteers engaged in Missione 2000 an association that, along with Colazione con il sorriso, was supported by Doctors with Africa Cuamm through the IRC19 project, “Italian Response to Covid19: Improving governance and community preparedness for a resilient society (IRC19)”, funded by USAID (US Agency for International Development).

27.240 meals have been distributed in La Spezia thanks to this contribution between 2020 and 2021.

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