Smile emergency: with brotherhood we enter the hearts of people and institutions

Little Iahia and soon other children will arrive in Italy to undergo interventions and treatments lacking in their countries of origin, and thus hope to have a better future. The project is an opportunity to learn more about places and realities that live in poverty and abandonment, and draw attention to the work of men and women who together manage to change mentality and cultures in the sign of solidarity and respect for human dignity.

Debora D’Angelo – Vatican City

When what appears to be a difficulty becomes a challenge that can be overcome: this is the goal of Emergenza Sorrisi, which for over 13 years has worked in the most disadvantaged countries in the world to restore joy and hope for a better life to thousands of children. The reception project to guarantee the right care to those who do not have the opportunity was made possible thanks to a synergistic work between Emergenza Sorrisi, the association’s volunteer doctors working in the main Italian hospitals, Italian and international institutions and associations operating in the area. In the fall, little Yamila, a one-year-old girl with cleft palate who lives in the refugee camp in the Sahara desert, arrives in Italy. The request for help was moved Rossana Berinipresident of the Rio De Oro Odv Association, which for over 20 years has fought for the rights of the Saharawi refugees, offering medical care and free assistance to the disabled, with special attention to children.

Communication and dignity

The aid and support activities that the association has carried out in recent years have given all involved people the opportunity, mostly families who have also had indirect experiences – how fundamental it is to listen to others. “Children help and understand each other – he declares Rossana Berini – this simple experience helps us to understand how, in addition to the disease, we have to do with people”. People who, in their diversity, communicate albeit in a different way. “To accept means to know – concludes the president of Rio De Oro Odv – but also to understand the other”.

The importance of asking for help

After several years of help, the Saharawi people are aware of the associations’ great support and commitment to ensure a better future for the children in the refugee camps who cannot receive adequate care. Rio De Oro Odv, which was founded as a summer reception association for healthy children, has decided to expand its area of ​​action by expanding the project to include disabled people. Previously, “the child was accepted from birth and left like that – says the president of the Rio De Oro Odv Association – without thinking about the possibility of helping him and, if anything, curing him or supporting him in some way.” In this situation, poverty certainly plays a role. derogatory, since the houses have nothing that can represent a support or help: the houses – explains Rossana Berini – do not have tables or chairs, and people live on the ground.”

Listen to the interview with Rossana Berini

Be welcome guests

The president of Emergenza Sorrisi and a doctor Fabio Massimo Abenavoli for its part emphasizes the importance of the concept of synergy, so that help and the right care can be ensured for children in such poor countries or countries at war. “Our operators go to the site, and in cases where it is not possible to operate on site – he explains – we bring patients to Italy”. A job that requires a strong bond and relationship with the local institutions and structures in the individual country. “Being welcome guests is essential for us”, emphasizes the president Abenavoli.

Into people’s hearts

The theme of brotherhood, which Pope Francis addressed several times, is the leitmotif of all Emergenza Sorrisi’s activities. “The relationship that is created – explains Dr. Abenavoli – is based on fraternity. It manages to get us into people’s hearts, but also into institutions”. In conclusion, a “pray together to request a higher intervention .”

Listen to the interview with Dr. Fabio Massimo Abenavoli

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