A whole town and its Mayor responded to the tragedy of a mother killed by her husband by mobilizing to take care of the children and inventing “Citizens’ Adoption”. It was an act that made the Italian town a winner of the 2019 Chiara Lubich Prize for Fraternity.
Alghero is a small town in Sardinia with historical Catalan roots. Here the tragic news of the murder of Michela Fiori, a forty-year-old mother of two children who was killed by her husband, set in motion the generosity and solidarity of an entire community, together with its Mayor, Mario Bruno.
In the aftermath of Michela’s death, the Mayor’s phone never stopped ringing. Everyone wanted to do something for her children: from the school bus driver who said he would accompany them to school to the manager of a club that offered to organize their birthday parties. “On Christmas Day I saw the city embrace the children – the Mayor explained. About four thousand people went in procession to Michela’s house. There I felt I had to make a promise: ‘I will take care of your children’. Then it became, ‘We will take care of your children’.” Generosity on the part of so many people led to the idea whereby the Mayor established a “Citizens’ Adoption”. It was an administrative act that, besides expressing solidarity, put the tragic phenomenon of femicide in the spotlight. The “Citizens’ Adoption” means that the 44,000 inhabitants of the town will take care of the two children through a support fund. It will be possible to make donations until the boys are twenty years old, or twenty-six if they decide to go to university. The first donation was from the town council, followed by over 300 citizens.
The boys, who now live with their grandmother in Genoa, as decided by the Juvenile Court, appreciate this beautiful gesture. They thanked the Mayor with the simplicity that only children have: they drew a picture of a heart with the name of the Mayor written on it and words that deeply touched the community: “Thank you for everything.”
A story of this kind could not go unnoticed by the Jury of the Chiara Lubich Prize for Fraternity. The award is given to local councils that develop effective and concrete projects or community initiatives promoting solidarity. And this is why Alghero won the tenth annual prize.
But … the story continues. On 7 April 2019, the Mayor of Alghero will be in Turin, in northern Italy, to keep a promise he made. A few days after the tragedy the elder boy [aged 12] said to the Mayor: “Mum promised to take me to the football match at the stadium on my birthday, April 7th. Now that she’s gone, who will take me?” Mario Bruno’s immediate answer was “I will”. And so it will be. In fact, Giovanni Malagò, president of the Italian National Olympic Committee, has already phoned the Mayor assuring him that he will provide tickets for the Juventus-Milan match. The boys will also be able to see their favourite player, Ronaldo, who has said he will be available to meet them.
Of course, for the children, the Mayor is just their friend Mario. Once a shop assistant asked for their documents when he was making a payment and they exclaimed, “But doesn’t she know you’re the Mayor”?
Paolo De Maina