Last week saw the official visit of the American Ambassador to the Holy See, Joe Donnelly, to Padua, to personally get to know Doctors with Africa CUAMM, its commitment in Africa and its intervention in Italy and in Ukraine in favour of the most vulnerable.

The morning was an intense one, which first led the ambassador and his staff to visit the Immigration Office, in Piazza Zanellato, to get a close-up view of the commitment to welcoming migrants. In a second moment, Donnelly visited the CUAMM headquarters, in Via San Francesco, where he was informed about the work in eight African countries south of the Sahara, in favour of health and care for the most fragile segments of the population, mothers and children, and the training of local human resources. A particular focus is the Cuamm’s commitment in Italy, which has grown over the last two years, also thanks to the support of USAID.

Hence the recent collaboration with the Padua Police Headquarters, started on 28 March, to contribute to the activities of the Immigration Office. During March and April, due to the crisis in Ukraine, the number of people received by the desk doubled, reaching peaks of 350-400 in the first weeks of the conflict. They are mostly women, elderly people and minors.  Since this cooperation began, the helpdesk has received some 22,000 foreign nationals and has seen Cuamm volunteers actively engaged in reception.

«This was an important opportunity for me to get to know at first hand the commitment of Doctors with Africa CUAMM, the extraordinary work it is doing in response to the emergency in Ukraine, and its commitment in Africa, where it continues to work on the front lines to ensure access to care for the most vulnerable. – said US Ambassador to the Holy See Joe Donnelly – Thank you for the work you do in what you call the last mile, where the need for intervention is greatest. Seeing the fruits of the collaboration between Cuamm and USAID and knowing that together you can save the lives of many people, in Africa and beyond, is truly inspiring».

Antonio Sbordone, Chief of Police of Padua, said: «Our Immigration Office provides an extraordinary service, managing to bring together security considerations and those of welcoming and supporting the most vulnerable. We need support to best achieve this objective and the CUAMM is making an absolutely outstanding contribution. The volunteers are now perfectly integrated in the spirit that animates the policemen of the Immigration Office of the Questura of Padova, and my admiration and gratitude towards the CUAMM, for what it does in the world, and for what it does for us, is absolute, but also heartfelt».

«This visit is a great sign of esteem and friendship for us – said Andrea Borgato, deputy director of CUAMM -. Thanks to the special support we received from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) at the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, CUAMM was also able to carry out important initiatives and works in Italy and Padova. Although we always have Africa in our hearts, at a time of serious emergency, we have also been able to donate professionalism and expertise to our country, and this has been very important for all of us. On this road is the collaboration with the Immigration Office, which sees about 30 volunteers working every day to welcome migrants. In recent months, they have donated over 2,600 hours of their free time to help someone fragile and in need. This is one of the foundations on which, for over 70 years, CUAMM has based its choices and actions, in Africa, and also in Italy».

The 30 or so CUAMM volunteers at the Immigration Office give their time and availability to safely manage the reception phase of people in order to facilitate the receipt of paperwork and streamline procedures, thus guaranteeing a service of support and assistance to people in a state of stress or difficulty dictated by the critical situation. Added to these activities was the contribution of the interpreters who, in addition to providing assistance at the Ukrainian language desks, made themselves available for the translation of documents containing useful information for their stay in Italy.

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