Things that happen

Publish date 10-06-2021

by Matteo Spicuglia

Valentina is now an expert. The list kept with precision: milk, bread, fruit, vegetables and even meat to buy. By now, she knows the neighborhood shops like her pockets and the merchants have learned to welcome her like one of the family. First the grocery store, then the greengrocer and the butcher. Shopping is ready. All that remains is to deliver it. Valentina knows where to go: a few hundred meters along the street, then the first street on the right, the apartment building to ring. "It's me, I brought the shopping!" «How nice that you have arrived! I've been waiting for you », the answer from the other side. The meeting between Valentina and Lucia broke two Covid solitudes. Valentina, 32, is a Down girl from Turin. Lucia, on the other hand, is a lonely old woman who lives in the Santa Rita district, one of the most populous in the city. Like many peers, she has chosen a line of caution and for months she has been leaving the house as little as possible to avoid contagion.

This is how Valentina and other young people like her think of everything. They are the ones who buy medicine and food. They do it with Lucia, but also with other elderly people in the area. "It's a beautiful thing - says Valentina, two eyes lit behind the mask - we can leave the house, they can make friends with us". The project was born from the Buffoni di Corte association, a reality that for years has been dealing with over 150 children with disabilities: creative workshops, sport and theater, paths of autonomy. Covid and various lockdowns have interrupted many activities, but not the ideas and the desire to do. Because for disabled children, isolation is a double burden. Lucia Ferrero, mother of Margherita, who is also down, knows it well. “The effects of the pandemic produce a strong regression in our children. It was already difficult before to be able to integrate them fully into social life, now it is even more so. Many projects are at a standstill and we find ourselves having to keep our kids at home. It is very difficult for them to understand why they amplify emotions and fears. We parents have tried to explain what is happening, but many have closed in on themselves, others have needed psychotherapy. In short, we are experiencing a very complex period ».

A project like that of home shopping is a breath of fresh air for everyone. «First of all we managed to break the isolation of both the children and the elderly,» explains Luca Nicolino, president of the "Buffoni di Corte". «We started a little by chance, but we quickly realized that something beautiful was happening, precisely through the relationships that were born. Unfortunately, even today people are not used to seeing disability in a peaceful way. Children often receive compassionate looks, and there are also those who consider our efforts simply an unnecessary cost. It is not so. We have seen, for example, that when a shopkeeper finds a disabled boy as a regular customer, maybe at first he has some embarrassment, but in a short time he gets used to it and has no more problems. The meeting happens like this. It is also valid for the elderly». Lucia listens and nods. «It was nice to see how the boys were welcomed. Friendship with the elderly in the neighborhood was a key to integration because our children felt useful, part of social life, not of a world apart». What do you mean? «We have to be very honest. Many people are linked to the stereotype that a disabled person cannot help an elderly person. It is something unthinkable. Instead, we have shown that it is possible. We must continue along this path».

Valentina and her friends are not going to back down. Ready to get even more involved when the pandemic ends and today's fatigue will be a memory. Valentina, what do you miss most in these months? «Remove the mask, kiss, hug. A normal life. What everyone needs».

Matteo Spicuglia
NP march 2021

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