DRC work in TorinoIn northern Italy, refugees and migrants are living a very challenging life, after COVID-19 has limited the possibility to get food and find shelter for the night.
Francesca is heading out on one of her four weekly trips in her outreach work. The trip goes to areas of Turin in northern Italy, a city you would normally associate with Fiat, Martini and Juventus.
But the Turin Francesca meets is far from sunny sidewalk cafés with hissing espresso machines.
"I have never seen such conditions here in Italy before. Fortunately, we have partnered with several great organisations that are used to emergencies.”
She meets the most vulnerable people with our outreach team that goes into two cars: a minivan, which has been converted into a mobile medical clinic, and one we use for seeking out people in need of legal assistance.
“We are approaching to help the most fragile of the fragile. They are in the most vulnerable situation imaginable. They are not only homeless but also refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, and some of them have no papers to prove their right to protection.”
COVID-19 has worsened the situation
"The situation was bad before the COVID-19 broke out, but now it is even worse."
Francesca says that the shelters, that usually accommodate the weakest, are now closed for new arrivals to avoid COVID-19 spreading. And on top of that, they don't even know how to get food and basic things.
"We have become very aware of chains of infection, keeping distance and washing hands in our everyday lives, but these people are hit twice. They are not only poor and vulnerable – they cannot isolate themselves, and they cannot wash hands. They have no place to do it. We have to take our precautions and are completely covered. And we hand out masks to those we help, before we can start a medical exam or give them legal aid.”
Uplifting local support
“We also experience a great will from both the municipality, local organisations and local Italians who would like to help. Our doctors are volunteers, and the medical equipment in the minivan was bought thanks to an Italian Protestant Church Fund that economically supports the medical part of the project. Some of the equipment we have been given for free – and we have the equipment to carry out even smaller operations. When handing out supplies, many people step in and assist with handouts. It's uplifting.”
DRC is now scaling up in Italy to support the rising needs.
The project is sponsored by Compagnia di San Paolo and implemented in corporation with Rainbow for Africa and A.M.M.I.