The immense strength of the Italians

Fraternity, tenderness and creativity: the right ingredients to face the coronavirus emergency, with thousands of experiences of love for others

Struck particularly hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, Italy is experiencing one of its greatest ordeals since World War II. Despite this, Italians are facing it with countless gestures of solidarity, fraternity and tenderness.

“At the beginning I was afraid of contagion, so I was very quick in my nursing duties,” writes I.V., a nurse in the ward for patients testing positive for Covid-19 in the province of Naples. “A patient asked me for a coffee from the machine. At first I told him I couldn’t. But then, by involving a colleague, we found two coffee machines for all the patients.”

Having to stay at home changed life for Salvo and Enza’s family in Viareggio, with their children Emanuele and Marco. “Until a few days ago,” says Enza, “the children, taken by so many commitments, could barely say a quick hello to their sick and bedridden grandmother. Now they stop more and try to help me, even just by giving her a glass of water. At lunch and dinner we have more time to talk and to laugh, too.”

In Lucca, Paolo and Daniela offered to do the shopping for all their neighbours, and they donated some masks too. Also in Lucca, Rosa and Luigi, a young couple of teachers with two children, all at home at the moment, lent their car to a family with a serious financial situation.

In Siena, Giada and Francesca offered their services as babysitters for the children of nurses living near home to support them. In Pisa, Carla and Giacomo prepared food for some families near home, while in Arezzo there was a race of solidarity between Rosanna, Rita and Mario to support two people who cannot go out, through shopping and preparing meals.

In Latina, in order to support her young colleagues away from home and forced into isolation, Barbara began to record videos to share her recipes. They thanked her very much, because by doing this she makes them feel at home, like family.

Emanuele and Simonetta from Sardinia have been in quarantine for two weeks with their three children. “It immediately seemed to us an opportunity to build deep relationships as a family,” they write. “Since we came into contact with the virus, we started sharing our experiences in a chat group with other people who are experiencing the same suffering.

“One day some of them needed food. Since we couldn’t do the shopping ourselves, we found another couple who immediately were able to provide. And we realized that we should never give up when faced with someone else’s needs.”

“In my work in the cardiology intensive care unit, I found myself with a young patient who had a complicated heart attack,” says Orsolina, a nurse from Sicily. “In her eyes I saw fear and despair, because she did not have the comfort of her family and small children with her.

“I felt that I could be her family. So I helped her with her personal hygiene, thinking about what I would have wanted if I were in her place – making her bed just right, fixing her hair. Her eyes changed, and we felt a great joy together. At that moment we were a family.”

In Rome, Mascia, Mario and their son Samuel are discovering that “this virus, as well as reminding us that we are all interconnected, is giving us the opportunity to appreciate small things, to put family and affection first, to give free rein to creativity against the frenetic schedules and rhythms we are used to.” As class representative, Masha is looking for the best way to love families and teachers, keeping relationships vibrant through online chats and phone calls.

As Focolare’s co-president, Jesús Morán, said a few days ago: “This is truly a moment of wisdom… It leads to an awareness of reality enlightened by love and… triggers a formidable movement of fraternity.
“Truly God can do exceptional things, even in the midst of evil. He defeats it with his plan of love.”

Lorenzo Russo

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