What happened to a person affected by Aids left alone at the end of his life, to a drug addict that came out from the tunnel of drugs, to a mother with her new-born child who must serve the sentence for a theft, to a woman without a job and without a home because of her depression?
There are places in which also the men and women who are in danger of being “rejected” by the society find a home, the warmth of a family and reconstruct those significant ties in reciprocity, helping one another – we can literally say – even up to the end. It does not matter the race or the religion. This is the case of the home for adults of the Community Pope John XXIII called “San Giovanni Battista” and developed in the countryside around Castel Maggiore.
Today it celebrates twenty years of activity at the presence of the bishop of Bologna, Mons. Zuppi, of the President of the Community Giovanni Paolo Ramonda and of the Mayor of Castel Maggiore, Belinda Gottardi. The home started in the distant 1997, with the beautiful story of a young nurse who, following the words of the Founder Don Oreste Benzi “give a family to those who do not have it” to “re-generate in love”, accepts the proposal to welcome Aids terminal ills sent by the Asl (Local Health Service) of Bologna.
Like Giampiero Bonazzi, column of the house in the early years and now her “guardian angel”, that in an interview in 2001 told of himself and of his illness without shame, with the awareness of not being alone anymore. “I worked at the Cecchignola at the Ministry of Defense. One day the Major passed close to me and he looked at me. I asked him: ‘Why do you look at me?’. He had heard about the disease and since then I have never seen him! I’m Giampiero Bonazzi, born in ’58, and I was fired from my work place, desired by many, and suddenly misjudged and cut off by everyone due to HIV. Then, when from Rome I returned to my home town in Bologna, I met don Benzi and my life changed. I am in the Community Pope John XXIII for six years now. I have the right (foot) that is not good; the left yes. Without the wheelchair, I cannot move. If stop to take the white ones (antiretroviral drugs) I become all swollen up… Then I have a yellow one and a blue one (medicine) if I stop to take them… it is a problem! But I am truly glad to be here, you know why?… Because outside it is cold!“.
And for many others this human warmth led, step by step, to autonomy: and by miracle one became a pizza maker, another became a tailor, one works in a gardening cooperative, another became a point of reference for the new welcomed (from 1997 to today more than 800), leaving more than once social assistants, service operators for drug addiction, psychologists and psychiatrists of Health Centers Mental speechless – as often it happens in the homes of the Community scattered all over Italy (around 50) -. Among these Dr Giorgio Magnani, Psychiatrist of the Mental Health Center of Carpi, AUSL (Local Health Service) of Modena, which will present a speech in a debate on the theme “Frail adults and welcoming communities… beyond the culture of waste”.
Dr Magnani, do you believe possible a path of reintegration of psychiatric subjects among people with other issues, mothers with children coming from prison or women victims of trafficking? Isn’t it preferable to use more sectoral structures? Isn’t it even dangerous to mix those who for many should be even more marginalized?
“Absolutely yes. I am work with groups for so many years and I prefer working with inhomogeneous groups, those composed by people different for gender, age, status, problems, pathology, origin etc. In my experience, the diversity is an important factor for mutual enrichment. It should also be said that diversity is an element that is part of our normal life: a family or a community formed by all individuals of the same age or of the same kind would be a very odd family or a very strange community. It is evident that we should also be very careful in respecting the differences in permitting the freedom of the individuals and in maintaining a sufficient level of cohesion. The sectoral structures do not favour the psychologic development and risk of being marginalizing”.
Is it true that the family context can help people coming out from isolation and even help in autonomy even those who have a dual diagnosis?
“It may seems strange but for some people like those who have a dual diagnosis (a psychiatric pathology associated with the abuse of some substance) a sort of adoptive family, better if a small community marked by a style of family life, can offer a “corrective emotional experience” that would be impossible in the family of origin. This is because the relations with the families of origin at times are so narrow that they do not allow any modification”.
In the Home of the Community Pope John XXIII Giovanna Boccardo and Alberto Zucchero that are currently the responsible, argue that “three words are the fundamental keys in everyday life: welcoming, hope and mutual aid in diversity”. But for the people who come to your services these houses are not considered as “oppressive” Communities “?
When I work in group therapy sessions, I always start with a phase of welcome and my goal is to return to the group and to the individuals that compose it, hope through the comparison of the differences. Each participant can experience that if another person was accepted in the group and if for this person there is hope (that is so “strange”), even he may be welcomed and there will be will hope also for him.
Chiara, former drug addict with psychiatric problems, wrote “I want to do some hikes that lasts many kilometres to get something off my chest and to take back all those years lost in nothing… I want to be happy because I deserve it”. How important are sport, creative narration, art therapy in adults with discomfort in order to overcome the deep fragility and return to “be happy”?
“Chiara is fortunate because she is able to use words filling them with meaning. Often this process is difficult and then art therapies, sport, narrative but also the therapy of everyday life (domestic work) can become instruments of communication and facilitation that help to pass to the word”.