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December 26 2014 | ROME, ITALY

The crisis grows, solidarity increases. Some story ...

Talking at the table where those that help are confused with those that are helped

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At this Christmas there are so many stories that strike us. We are going to tell only three of the many that can be gathered at the many lunches of the Community of Sant'Egidio in Rome, in the Trastevere neighbourhood as well as in the suburbs. They speak of Italians living the crisis trying to get out of it with solidarity and of foreigners - but we prefer to say new Europeans - that now are not only welcomed, but begin to help other immigrants and the Italians themselves increasingly in poverty. All true stories (except the names).

But the most beautiful story is that of the small Egidio (this time the name is really true): born in Rome, from a pregnant mother landed in Lampedusa and welcomed in a house of the Community. At the centre table of Santa Maria in Trastevere, she is quite happy. And so are we.


When it is immigrants who help

It is the gift that you do not expect, that you did not put in the account on the eve. But solidarity works, even upside down. Because if you are helped, you learn to help and, when you least expect it, you get a thousand times what you have given. Even four thousand. Xu began. His family, Chinese immigrants for years in Rome, in the Esquilino neighbourhood, discovered how important it is to speak Italian by attending the school of the Community of Sant'Egidio. And what is the easiest way to integrate but solidarity? Xu, who is a businessman, began by giving scarves for the Christmas lunch. Since then it has been a contagion, until this year, when the distribution was made in a professional way: a group of Chinese entrepreneurs, after having visited the welcoming centre of via Anicia in Trastevere, was back with a load of 4,000 gifts: 2,000 women's scarves, 1,000 hats for men and 1,000 for children.

The shipwreck, the landing, the dream of a job

From Taranto to Rome dreaming of Norway. There, they said to Cosimo, there is opportunity to work in a factory, as he has always done. But meanwhile, he stopped in the capital where, if you do not find help, you run the risk of sinking. So it was happening to him, 58, a worker that suddenly finds himself out of work, with a pension of one thousand euro per month, but who chooses to leave his small income to the family, who needs it, to seek his fortune elsewhere. You start but you do not know when you arrive, you begin to know the way. In Rome, you live in the homeless shelters and eat at the Soup-kitchen of via Dandolo. The landing is the community that welcomes him and helps him to write dozens of letters to find a new job, in Italy or abroad. Maybe in Norway: "There, they say there is work, in a factory for the conservation of fish ... because here one can not find anything".

Two hearts and a house that is missing

There are not only the "others", those that come from the South of the world in search of peace and a job. The crisis forces also Italians to emigrate. It is enough if your own small company goes into crisis. As happened to Michael and Enrica: the family bakery no longer makes them earn enough to live and from the south they get to Rome precipitating a bit at a time in the spiral of extreme poverty. With great dignity Michele offers himself as a pizza maker, it is his job. But this year even the catering industry begins to know some setback: he works even as a porter, other chores. Erica works on an hourly basis as a baby sitter and assists the elderly. She resists, but the nightmare is the home: how to continue to stay together if the rent of a room is too expensive and, by necessity, they are forced to stay in the homeless shelters?