They come in together, both of them very young. She has a neat face, simple, and is wearing a light dress. She is hiding behind her partner. But there is one thing she cannot hide: a tummy in which for 7 months now has been living a baby. Irina and Dimitri (invented names) are from Moldova. She is 18 and he is 19. She does not speak Italian, does not have papers, and what is more, she is far away from family, waiting for a baby to be born soon. He tells they do not have anyone here, that his girlfriend has not been able to get even an ultrasound, let alone all other specialist examinations needed during pregnancy (they do not even know what they are…). The ASL (Local Health Authority) has made it clear: without papers there is nothing they can do. This is how the young couple has arrived here, to the Cav (Centre for life support), where volunteers are trying to support families and young mothers. People who cannot see alternatives but pregnancy interruption find here an stretched out arm ready to make them consider other possibilities.
The couple has already decided to keep the baby and to get married as soon as it is born. But they need help. “There are many couples who come here in these conditions – explains Francesca, the manager of the Cav Ardeatino, supported by the parish of St. Joan Antida in Rome – this is how we have managed to get a ultrasound machine. And thus, together with volunteering doctors we are able to provide also basic medical support to those who need them”.
Life aid centres are volunteering organizations, party-less, of Catholic inspiration, that are considered to be the operational arm of the Pro-life Movement. Its aim is to help women who struggle with a difficult or unwanted pregnancy, besides supporting young mothers without means or deprived of the capacity necessary for providing care to a baby, in order to avoid abortion.
Inside this centre one can hear all kinds of stories. As that of Celestine, from Zimbabwe, who has been living in Rome for 15 years now. “Shortly after having got married I became pregnant. My husband and me were very happy, he has a job, we could have made it”. But when the baby is two-months old, she discovers she is pregnant again. “I was literally shocked! How could I have handled two little children? Would we have had enough money? What would have people thought? I did not know how to say it to my husband… my parents still do not know about my pregnancy!”.
With a friend’s help she has found out about the Cav, which has provided her psychological support to help her accept the baby as a gift, because “a baby is always a gift”, she says. A slap in the face of the culture of selfishness, that seems to dominate our society.
Francesca tells us that often becoming a mother is not only an economic or a social problem for women, sometimes “they need to feel that they have someone by their side, that there is someone to support them”. While we talk, she receives a phone call: a young woman who asks for help, because all those around her, family, boyfriend, friends, make pressure on her to interrupt pregnancy. Yet this is a hypothesis she does not want to take into consideration. So they fix the first appointment during which they will begin to give her the necessary support. “It is right for every woman to freely express her vocation for motherhood – comments Francesca – it is not right for her to live the traumatic experience of an abortion, especially against her own will”.
Behind the organisation, spread all over the national territory, there are no economic interests, lobbies or political parties, there is only desire to support Life; the life of the unborn, that of the mothers, and also the life of those who need to recover from the serious consequences of an abortion. Doing all this requires everyone’s cooperation, from anonymous benefactors who donate money, food, and clothes for children, to doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists. All of them are available to offer their help without asking anything in return. Nothing but the smile of a mother and that of her creature, happy not to have yielded to the temptation of death.