New Humanity Movement

Politics and P.A.

Gela

 

 

What follows are excerpts of a talk that Rocco Goldini, together with his wife Rosa, gave some years ago to a large gathering. Although Rocco has passed away, his work is still bearing fruits.

By Rosa and Rocco Goldini

We have been married for many years and we have three children. Some years ago, we needed to move house; since we wanted to be coherent with our way of living, we decided to move into a poor neighborhood that lacked all facilities. We wanted to share with the people living there their daily problems.  

Since 1987, Gela has been notorious for the conspicuous presence of organized crime with the ensuing violence and murders. The fear that this provokes generates indifference and leads persons to live isolated within the walls of their homes.  

For us it was clear that the first objective was to live the ideal of universal brotherhood, starting from our own family.

When we moved into the neighborhood called Fondo Iozza we had to put up with a harsh reality: the streets were not asphalted and therefore were always full of mud. There was no public illumination… everything was lacking. We started building a friendly relationship with our new neighbors, and after some time, we started discussing with them what to do to address the most urgent needs.  

For example, one night, during a heavy downpour (which means that the streets were full of mud) I received a phone call: a neighbor told me that some garages were being flooded and a carpentry workshop risked being completely damaged. The owner was quite desperate. Seeing the state that the streets were in, I was afraid to venture outside; yet, I decided to go and help out. That night we toiled till five in the morning to eliminate as much water as possible and to reassure the owner of the carpentry workshop that all will be fine. Meanwhile, others came to help us and this proved to be an experience of solidarity. Had we not intervened the damage would have been catastrophic.

After a short time we started to hold meetings for the families of the neighborhood to discuss the problems linked to the lack of a sewerage system and the serious diseases that this caused, the state of the streets and the water supply. We were able to hold a dialogue because first we tried to establish a relationship with the other families; this experience also helped us when it came to deal with the authorities. Instead of protesting, we started a constructive and serious dialogue with several mayors, who immediately assumed a more collaborative attitude.  

A neighborhood committee was set up, and Rocco, having won the trust of many, was elected president. The first objective was to instill again trust in those persons that were discouraged after seeing so many promises that were never honored.

People started to move away from their political alliances, and found their dignity as a ‘political subject’ when they started to participate in the social life of the neighborhood. 

The meetings, the personal contacts, and the mutual help in difficult situations all contributed to create a feeling of community. This made an impact on the authorities and several millions of lire were earmarked for the upgrading of the neighborhood.

Today, at Fondo Iozza, which was formerly called ‘Neighborhood X’, many things have changed: besides the sewerage and water systems, a gas distribution system has been installed and the streets are now illuminated. 

The most interesting thing is surely how these improvements have been achieved. Certainly the way the people tackled the problems with tenacity and urgency was important; however, it was mostly thanks to the dialogue and the collaboration between a group of persons for the good of all the community.  

We organized a football tournament that involved 24 teams. The idea behind this tournament was to make the community aware of other secondary needs, like a sports center, a parish church, and a social center: all initiatives that help the community to live and grow.

Today Fondo Iozza is considered as a ‘model’ neighborhood, and has been re-named ‘New Neighborhood’; there, in spite of the difficulties, the inhabitants are still striving to create a better environment in which the human person is at the center. Indeed, an environment of brotherhood that gives society a new mentality.

© Photo Copyright Giovanbattista Roncato Creative Commons License

 

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