Defend your fatherland helping the others. The Italian Civil Service is based on the same article of the Constitution (52) that requires every citizen to fulfill their “sacred duty” and protect the State. Nevertheless, you cannot build peace simply avoiding war. It requires also social commitment and widespread solidarity.
Younger people should not underestimate this opportunity. It helps them to develop their skills and abilities, and to take into consideration for their future careers areas they would have never thought of otherwise. It is especially important for the so-called NEETs – young people who neither work nor study – because the Civil Service changes both the lives of those who receive and offer help. A slap in the face of those who prefer not to dirty their hands, sticking to their prejudices without truly knowing anything about the lives of people they label as “problematic”, “psychiatric”, “poor”, etc. The Civil Service is also a way to experience volunteering – an important component of the Italian non-profit sector – in a more immersive and engaging way. Ultimately, it is a choice of peace amidst so many scenarios of war we are presently witnessing.
“It is a wonderful experience, I would certainly do it again,” Marco tells In Terris. He is a volunteer at the Pope John XXIII Community who helps young women rescued from prostitution racket. This young unemployed man, who is a graduate in graphic design, decided to share this experience with his girlfriend. “I wanted to help in a difficult and delicate area such as human trafficking”, a tragedy we have got used to face on a daily basis. “It is enough to pass a night on the beach to realize it” and to understand that behind heavy makeup, lipstick, and high heels, there is a young woman who is frightened, abused, and often beaten up by her exploiters. “I was curious to understand how those women felt – he adds -, therefore me and my friends stopped sometimes to ask them ‘how are you?’ Hence my choice to apply for the Civil Service: I wanted to experience this tragedy ‘from inside’.
Needless to say it is a powerful experience. More than one might think when (s)he decides to join a similar project. But after the initial shock, empathy, confidence, and affection come into play. “It will be hard leave them – Marco says with slight sadness -. We have built a beautiful relationship based on respect and friendship. In addition, there is a lot of receiving, even more than giving. For example, people thanked me simply for putting a smile on their face or a joke. In the outside world, these gestures are granted, we do not even pay attention to them: we barely notice them. Whereas inside this facility, what you do – or give – always receives recognition.”
And you feel useful, which is an important detail. There is a world in crisis outside, where work is a mirage for young people. The risk is to allow circumstances overwhelm you, become alienated, stop being part of a society where everyone can still contribute with something. “You learn so many things – Marco said – from the most humble, from cooking to going on errands to things that are more difficult. Yet, in this context, even everyday actions (often taken for granted) acquire new value because you make them to help the others. Even fetching some medicine from the pharmacy or other errands of this kind; if I had made them at home, I would not have paid any attention to them. Whereas in this context, you know that they have another purpose, a more noble purpose and they make you feel far more useful than you would feel doing the same outside.”