On a visit to Genoa for the celebration of the 43rd anniversary of the Sant'Egidio Community, the President Marco Impagliazzo met the Roma living in Molassana field, where the Community of Genoa has been present since 1985.
For Roma it was an opportunity to tell the story that led their families to emigrate to Italy over twenty years ago and to find, not always in an easy way, accommodation in the city of Genoa. A history of trouble and even tragic deaths, reminding what has recently happened to the four Romanian children in the slums of Rome.
In recent years, the Community's presence has helped the inclusion in the district and a good cooperation with the institutions and the population, even if the rights of Roma are not yet fully recognized. A strong desire for integration has led many families of the field to wish for a different settlement, and some people actually live in public housing.
Friendship with the Community, in fact, is not limited to assistance, while necessary, but encourages the desire to integrate and strengthens a sense of humanity and solidarity which should not be ignored. It is significant that some young Roma, once children of the "School of Peace" now flank the Community in solidarity with those who are in conditions even more difficult. In particular, they reported, "with Romanian Roma living in a similar condition, if not worse than that which we lived when we were camped on the banks of the river Bisagno."
Many children present, who attend the School of Peace together with other neighborhood children. Some of them, after party and singing, delivered some letters, thankful for a very pleasant visit.
The Community of Sant'Egidio in Genoa and Roma
The friendship of the Community of Sant'Egidio began in Genoa in 1984 with the Roma, in the district of Valpolcevera, where in those years lived some groups of Sinti already settled down, and then with the Roma of a poor cluster of shacks along the river Bisagno.
This is where the Community initiated a series of initiatives to improve the living conditions of Roma and especially their children, not without difficulty, were enrolled in school and followed during the studies.
The difficulties were of many types: the distance of the school (one of the first requests to city administration was a school bus), but also the very conditions in the field: the first child enrolled, Mustafa, kept the notebooks in a refrigerator to avoid that the mice ate them.
The school has also meant the overcoming of the wall of prejudice and the start of friendship and bonds with teachers and families, which remained even when, in 1988, the City of Genoa has opened its first equipped areas and the Roma have been able to leave the bed of the torrent.
Since 1990 the Schools of Peace in Genoa have been active in the fields of Bolzaneto, Molassana and Foce.
Today, in Genoa, there are only two fields: from 2006 (when the Foce camp was dismantled) the majority of Roma are going to live in housing distributed in different districts.
The Community of Sant'Egidio, with the School of Peace and centers of Peace People, continues its activities for the support and integration of the Roma minority.