With the doors opened

Publish date 20-04-2020

by Francesca Fabi

Even in this time, the Sermig chooses hope.


The reception of the arsenals arose from a pointing finger. "Hey, where are you sleeping tonight?" A young man spoke, one of the many invisibles who lived in the contradictions of the 80s, but above all in the comings and goings of a station. A finger pointed, the provocation to get involved, invent new charities, confirm the choice to live with the doors open. That spirit has never gone away. Today, in time of quarantine, that young man would add a nuance to his question. “Hey, it's okay to stay home. But what if I don't have a house? " For the guests of the reception it is reality, pure and simple reality.


The Sermig Arsenals however anticipated the response. The pace of the days slowed down, stringent security measures also arrived here, but not at the gates. The nocturnal welcome has expanded: the warm evening meal, a clean bed, friendly faces who welcome you. The same spaces that have become home even during the day. It happens in Turin, at the Arsenale della Pace: a sea of ​​humanity of about 200 people who are welcomed, treated and supported every day even in an emergency. Men, women, children of different cultures and religions. Every evening everyone prays for the difficulties of this moment and the differences naturally become a wealth for everyone. Then the medical visits, the distribution of the shopping to the families of the neighborhood, the video calls with the boys from Felizia because certain ties can become even stronger despite the distance. All this is possible thanks to the contribution of the volunteers. Many had to stay home for safety reasons, but many others joined. There are those who worked in the factory, those who live alone, those who have no commitments. The same phrase: "If you want, I come to help you."

Life has also changed at the Arsenale dell'Armonia, in Pecetto Torinese, which hosts children hospitalized with their families. A category particularly at risk in these weeks. For them, the fraternity is animating moments of play, of aggregation, but also lessons and remote schooling. Waiting for everything to pass.

So in São Paulo of Brazil. The Arsenale della Speranza is also a place that speaks and that in different ways relives pages of its past. Quarantine facility for millions of European and Asian migrants between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Today the largest quarantine house in the world at the time of the coronavirus. Over a thousand guests welcomed not only for the night, but 24 hours a day. Here too, it is a struggle against time, in a country far behind Europe in terms of risk awareness.

On the one hand, the stringent measures decided by local governors, on the other, the line of President Jair Bolsonaro who, with an almost arrogant air, continues to dismiss the issue as a simple influence. However, the Arsenale has always chosen the dignity and safety of people. And prudence has become the rule of these days: measures of distance between guests, the rush to produce even masks at home, the creation of solutions to shade the avenues of the house to offer protected spaces during the day.

Delicacies that are also expressed in Jordan at the Arsenal of the Meeting. Fortunately, the Middle Eastern country has few cases of contagion, but the attention is highest. The government has decided as a precaution to close the schools, including the one run by Sermig. But even here there are no distances. Teachers and educators are doing all they can to maintain remote contact with disabled children and their families.

The life of the Arsenals therefore does not stop, perhaps it palpitates even stronger. Because beyond the emotions of everyone, the invitation to stay at home, the notes that resonate from the balconies, in places like this the pains of the world resonate even stronger. They are the friends who confide in you a suffering, a phone call that gives voice to the pain of a loss. They are requests for help that introduce you to the insight into parents who have no money to bring food home. They are faces that even without words ask you the reason for what is happening. But in places like this, hope also rings out. Stubborn, resistant, light. The hope that no longer says: "Everything will be fine!", But "Courage! Do not fear! I'm with you!".


See the focus Reflections in Time of Covid 19

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