L'Italo-Americano

italoamericano-digital-8-8-2019

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THURSDAY, AUGUST 8, 2019 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 W hen, a few years back, E m e r g e n c y a n n o u n c e d the implementation of mobile health units around Italy, many were surprised. Since 1994, the huma- nitarian association founded by Milanese activist and physician Gino Strada has been known for the creation of field hospitals in some of the most dangerous war zones in the world. Throughout the years, it helped care for more than 10 million people across war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Rwanda, Angola, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, offering free, high quality medical and surgical care to the victims of war, land mines and poverty. In this places, forgotten by Man more than God, the association often represents the only speck of humanity, solidarity and support to human rights. As Serato teaches us, a plate of pasta can truly make a difference From the director In 2006, though, it decided to create mobile health units in the most deprived areas of cities like Milan, Naples, Palermo, Latina, to guarantee the constitutional right to healthcare to all: in that moment, many people realized it wasn't only migrants to need this type of support. in Marghera, a mere 14 minutes from Venice, one Emergency patient every 5 is Italian. In truth, statistics have been noting the rising level of poverty among Italians for quite some time and across the country, from North to South. Emergency's mobile health units, specifically created to support the most vulnerable groups in our society, mirror what Istat, the National Institute of Statistics, has been recording for a while: 5 million people in absolute poverty (that is, 12% of Italians without sufficient means to live with dignity). A record since 2005, but unfortunately, a constant since 2017. 28.9% of Italians are at risk of poverty or social exclusion: this equals 17.5 million people. In the South, the percentage rises to 44.4%, against the 18.8% of the North. When considering the number of people with a job who, nevertheless, live in poverty, Italy holds the fifth to last position among UE nations, with a percentage of 12.2% (2017). Unfortunately, poverty is not a thing of the past. It isn't only the reason that brought millions of Italians to emigrate in the early years of the 20th century. It lurks among many families, in a country that, however, is still among the most developed on Earth. Yet, poverty can be tackled and fought, and we can do it, too. Our opening article is an invitation to act, each of us contributing in the way we know best, within our own communities. Chef Bruno Serato, who told L'Italo-Americano the simple way thousands of children can be fed every day, with only a plate of pasta, is also the owner of a prestigious restaurant in Anaheim where celebrities like Gwen Stefani, Andy Garcia, Andrea Bocelli and even two US Presidents, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, love to gather. Born in France, raised in the Verona province and emigrated to the US to make his dream come true, Serato is more than a successful Italian migrant to America. His story tells us of a man who knew he had in his hands the power to help others. In 2005, he visited the Boys and Girls Club, one of 4000 charity centers opened throughout the US to help and support children in need. He directly learnt about the Motel Kids, or better, he touched with his own hands the immense poverty riddling Great America. He began feeding children with simple, humble plates of pasta. When his restaurant burnt down in 2017, a solidarity race started among his friends — famous and non famous — colleagues, rival restaurants and many other people who didn't even know him, to keep his charity work going. A massive mobilization of people and means, demonstration of how contagious generosity can be. Yes: his parents emigrated to improve their working and life conditions. Yes: he also left Italy, 20 years ago, with a dream in his pocket, just like many other young Italians. Yes: he started from the bottom, working as a kitchen porter and as a waiter. Yes: today they call him "a hero" and he receives awards and prizes for his efforts. But we should never forget the touch of humanity and kindness characterizing his work. In Italy, 5 million people live in absolute poverty: almost 2 million families, 8.3% of the population. Basically, 1 person every 12, while 1 every 5 is on the edge of the abyss. Our Belpaese recorded one of the highest increases in wealth distribution inequality among OECD countries: this means the rich have become richer and the poor poorer. In mid-2017, 20% of the richest Italians held more than 66% of national wealth, while 50% of the poorest only 8.5%. Immense inequality exists in Italy, just like in the US. But each one of us can help make a change. Indeed, even a simple plate of pasta can make a real difference. Simone Schiavinato, Director NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS

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