Two enormous eyes on an ebony face and a mountain of black curls, an ever ready smile: all concentrated in about a metre. This is the image of the child that amongst the first, approaches the table where the food i sto ask for a portion. Dinner, probably the only meal of the day. Others are still to play another “two shots” at football, with a slightly deflated ball, but as soon as they see the volunteers who have set the table, they line up neatly while someone goes to call the others in the field.
We are in the car park in via delle Messi gold, behind the station of Ponte Mammolo in Rome. On the other side of the road there is is an abusive camp, which has been there in disuse for about twenty years, but at this time of humanitarian crisis, every day hundreds of refugees, mainly from Eritrea, who manage to arrive in the capital out of fortunate means, who are then to reach other undefined destinations in Europe to start a new life.”They have nothing. Don Marco explains the parish in Rome, referring to the district –The place inside is pretty organised, like a country. But they have nothing to exchange “.
The first baby turns up again. He wants something, but does not know how to explain himself. Back with Tommy, a boy who speaks Italian, who tells us they wnt portions to take inside to his pregnant mum and sister who can’t move and he is “the little master of the house” that must provide for the dinner. While the other boys settled their “outdoor kitchen”, collecting litter, dishes and glasses in an extremely orderly way, Tommy stays to talk with us. He explains that he speaks Italian because Ihe has been in the country for 11 years, and that he had embarked on a dinghy when he was 16 years old. He had managed to get to Lampedusa, then with some luck had reached Udine, where he finished school and got a regular visa. He then came to Rome 5 years ago,and since then has been living in the field.
“I can’t leave, I can’t find work – he says – and my documents have expired. But without a residence I can’t renew them, and out of work can’t get a home without having a residence. I asked him if he was frightened that the police might arrest him, and he responds with a smile: “if yhey arrest me I can do nothing about it. I would have to wait till they set me free and then I could contiue to look for work. I’ve been doing this for 11 years. ”
Don Marco activated, by appealing to various voluntary associations, to bring at least one full meal per day to those who have no other means of livelihood.“Mondays we have the volunteers of the Opera Regina Apostolorum and the faithful of the parish St. Hyginus, on Tuesday the s.Egidio, Wednesday, the parish s. Romano and St. Vincent Pallotti, Thursday, the Knights of Malta, St. Bernadette Friday, Saturday is the turn of s. Maria del Soccorso and Sunday there are Scouts of Europe from various parishes, so we have never found ourselves without food despite the institutions pretend not seeing anything.” The procedure is simple: Whoever offers, must prepare sandwiches, soup, and if he can collect some fruit and sweets that will be distributed to people who patiently wait in a queue, in the style of a canteen. It’s the other side of the coin, a slap to the populist propaganda about the costs of immigrants in Italy.
While the volunteers begin to dismantle the tables to go back home, Tommy reappears, followed by a bunch of youth, between the ages of 15 and 30, because in Europe we come as young people, you have to be strong to work “; he stops us to be their spokesperson (since almost all passing through for a few days no one else spoke Italian): “you do too much for us. You saved us from the sea, we have been welcomed when we were desperate and you even bring us food. For us it’s too much. Really thank you, may God bless you “.
Last weekend, however, the situation has got worse due to the increase of refugees that have landed in our country: On Saturday there were about 400, while Sunday almost 600. “We had predicted 400 meals, but the last 40 remained with two apples each one. It was a nice moment, “says volunteer Christian Scouts of Europe.
Then the inevitable: the field was cleared by agents of the municipal police of the PRS and the IV group. The situation was becoming unbearable, some, especially the abusers who had been living there for years. City counsellor for social policies Francesca Danese and the President of the IV Municipality, Emiliano Sciascia, commented: “we’re dismantling a ghetto where people have lived since the 13th century, of different nationalities, in unbearable conditions for a city like ours where nobody should be deprived of personal dignity”.In the meantime, that child-along with many others-now will not find to anything to eat.