an explosion of joy, of life, of celebration – I cannot take these feelings away from my heart, even if they clash with the deep estrangement we all feel in Italy in these hours. I’ve just landed in Rome on my return, via Addis Abeba, from South Sudan. I’ve visited some of our work places there, the hospitals of Rumbek and Yirol. I feel a lot of gratitude for the great and tiresome work that our volunteers do, together with their local colleagues. However, where I was overwhelmed by emotions was in one of the remotest and most forgotten places of the Country, Nyal, 40,000 people, in the State of Unity.
The locals were all there, waiting for us to arrive. The whole community had gathered to “celebrate” the new operating room annexed to the modest healthcare centre. There had never been one before. Now, eventually, moms can give birth without fear of losing their life. The chief of the community thanked us and asked us not to abandon them. I answered that for us “TOGETHER” is like a blood oath. “When we start, we stay” I added, looking into his eyes and feeling a heavy responsibility.
Health really is physical and inner “life”, energy and joy. When you’re unhealthy you feel “dead”, tired, sad. Health is creativity, desire, movement. When you’re unhealthy, you stop, there’s no development and growth. Returning to Italy, with the cities deserted and the hospitals of some of our regions working at their capacity, I’ve perceived this mood heavily. “Coronavirus” has infected our country and we’re sick, forced to rest, sheltered at home, obliged to stop. Closed shops, blocked activities, suspended offices and meetings. The weakest ones surrender and the economy collapses.
Life is a woollen thread, the line between one part and the other of the world is narrow, thin. Finding oneself on “one part” or “the other” is a matter of seconds. Humanity is just one. That’s why our gaze, that has been focused on Africa for 70 years now, today is also watching our country, participating in the challenging and hard moment we’re facing. So, in Italy, we want to be close to the elderlies who fear for their health and who find themselves even more alone facing a hard daily routine of isolation and scarcity of relations, that’s why we’re setting up a network of our local volunteers and groups. We’re still supporting the many doctors who have returned and are now working in the hospitals of our country with the same passion and competence they put in Africa. We feel the duty to give real help, selecting an especially needy healthcare facility and supporting it.
And then in Africa, where support, care, operators are always running low, there are still few assessed Covid-19 cases, but they are set to grow and we must be prepared. We’ve just heard this morning the news of the first suspected case of the disease at the hospital of Wolisso, in Ethiopia. The alert of our operators is at its highest. We must do all we can to protect the operators and contain the epidemics. The risk of failing is very high, because the healthcare systems are extremely fragile and it’s not possible to guarantee intensive treatments to sick patients, the wards are not well equipped! That’s why we’re handing out PPE in the 23 hospitals in which we are present (gloves, alcoholic gel, masks, coats, linen), preparing containment plans, training the many healthcare operators, also in the communities, on hygienic and protection rules, working with the national governments to prepare guidelines and suitable procedures to contain the epidemics.
Francesco Canova, founder of Cuamm, in January 1946 was in transit at the railway station of Caserta and, scared by the destruction he saw around him, he asked the station manager if all of Italy was like that. And that “little ill-dressed man” answered him: “Even worse, son, even worse. But don’t fear, you’ll see that things will get better soon, trust Gennarino!” (Christian sympathy and testimony, Messaggero, Padua 1983).
In this challenging time, in Italy and in Africa, we have to nurture the trust of the heart and the perseverance of the work!
I embrace you and thank you for all the help you can give us.
Don Dante Carraro, Director of Doctors with Africa CUAMM