Meeting the future

Publish date 19-09-2020

by Rinaldo Canalis

In front of the house, Klaudia, sitting on a chair, asks me to organize an online English course for her children. It is a sweet evening in early May. Klaudia, surrounded by her children and many others from the camp, has just returned. "You know, now that we don't go to school, if the children are engaged in something that can be useful in life, it is important." Young Klaudia has 4 young children.
Some are in elementary school, classmates of my niece. With her husband I was discussing the changes to be made to the housing container just opened after a long stay for 6 in a tiny caravan. A life of tribulation, not without danger.

One morning this winter I had knocked on the door of the trailer.
They all sleep in 4X2 meters including the kitchen. An acrid smell of gas captures me. It is the stove, it serves to not freeze but can turn into a deadly gas chamber. We must intervene. Her husband is absent at that time. Contact “Ativa Autostrada” where some people are available to help. They offer me a construction container that our volunteers place on a suitable area. Benefactors pay for the flooring while Ms. Klaudia takes care of the linoleum cover and the adaptation of the electrical system. Finally the family is safe, life changes for them. In the end, more than 50 people are involved in various capacities in this project.

The story began a few years ago when for the first time I entered the Roma camp of Cumiana, along the state road of the Avigliana lakes (TO), where some families live hidden in a wood on the land they bought. People know, but it's like they don't know. Considering them Cumianese, it clashes in the collective imagination.
We begin to deal with it with the repair of the roof of a house and the excavation of an adjacent moat to avoid flooding. Finally, the "crazy" idea: to put a container in the center of the field to allow children to participate in after-school activities so that they do not lag behind their classmates. The Cidis di Pinerolo finances a project in which some operators go to the field and teach.
Sermig volunteering supports the public in training.

At "Ativa" I ask for the school container. Actually, this single container was the outline of the after school project, but the morning visit with the smell of gas makes me change my mind. I dare. I ask for 2 containers which, combined, are both in the highway depot… battered but available.
The restrictions imposed to contain the pandemic are pressing. We run, and before the lockdown we manage to fix Klaudia's house and part of the school, but there is no electricity. The teachers, in lockdown, send homework, you have to download them, print cards, make video conferences. How to do for these students?

It is Saturday 25 April, the day of liberation. In my courtyard, the civil defense pick up picks up a computer, a printer, a webcam, some loudspeakers. Destination: rom field called "Insieme".
Together is the name given by the volunteers to the camp. “Insieme” is nothing evocative: it is the name of a supermarket, closed for years, located nearby. In memory of a sanctuary of consumerism!

The next day, first video link with the teacher: amazing! Meanwhile, some friends have connected the container to electricity. Children are no longer alone! At the first videoconference, I decide to name the school after Dom Luciano Mendes de Almeida, Brazilian bishop who lived with the poor, our friend and teacher, who died in 2006. He used to repeat that "children are not the problem, but the solution to the problem ".
It is a journey of two worlds together. A bridge, not only telematic, has been opened and the children are crossing it. A bridge between different cultures undoubtedly. The children of the "Together camp" can be Cumianesi, like the others, for a common future. Just want it.

Rinaldo Canalis
NP June / July 2020

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