Eduardo's shoes

Publish date 21-01-2021

by Simone Bernardi

It is Sunday. They call me from the concierge. "There is Eduardo who came to bring a donation of shoes". Eduardo is 16 years old, he has known the Arsenal of Hope since the beginning of last year. The mother, worried about the too many hours he spends on his cell phone, opted for shock therapy: flush him out of the sofa at home and, albeit for a few hours a week, put him in front of the reality of someone who doesn't have a home.

Eduardo is smart and with the same intelligence with which he can follow 12 TV series and study with good results in the rest of the time, he puts himself at our disposal to help guests in the Arsenale library. But the pandemic has wiped out everything and has forcefully put it back in front of a screen, even more than ten hours a day. Receiving an internal call and hearing that "Edu" is in the reception has the taste of "olive branch": perhaps the waters of the pandemic deluge are subsiding ... I put on my mask and go. We haven't seen our volunteers face to face for seven months, but when I approach the entrance, I immediately understand that the end of freediving is still far away. Eduardo stayed out. From the lower part of the door, I see the image of his shoes and, around, many other feet with flip-flops. I think I know what's going on. I hurry up my steps and when I look out onto the street I have confirmation: «Give me a pair of shoes. Brother, I need a pair of shoes too! Give me a couple too! " Others are approaching ...

I have just finished celebrating the parish mass online, each from their own home, but that sentence of Jesus: "you always have the poor with you" (Mt 26, 11) has not stopped questioning us even for a minute about this long pandemic. The consequences of social inequality, indifference and any other type of injustice are always there, evident and agglomerated in front of our door.

This "church" is never empty. As soon as I take off the stole, I suddenly find myself having to wear the "sheriff" star in the middle of the street. Eduardo came accompanied by his father (from Friday to Sunday he stays with him) who must have advised him not to enter. I knew of his skepticism about his son frequenting a house like this. I greet Eduardo - who is uncertain what to do - and I thank him. Despite the mask, I try to use the most serene expression possible, also to give a signal to the father sitting in the car, behind the dark windows: I didn't see him, but he saw me and the whole scene. I take the bag of shoes from Eduardo's hands with slow and calm movements, not out of fear, but so that everyone, even the drug dealers on the street corner, can read every gesture calmly: these shoes are a donation to the Arsenale and we will so that they end up in everyone's feet, not just the strongest or most insistent.

Sometimes there are some "no" to say, perhaps without saying anything, but they must be said well, with respect, knowledge of the facts and with compassion in the heart, without taking away hope, but making sure that a mentality of sharing and respect is created. even among those who ask for help. In the world there are shoes for everyone, those were all by Eduardo who today dug out his father from the sofa at home to bring them to us. This 2020 is by no means to be thrown away.

Simone Bernardi
NP november 2020

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