Refugees Donate Time and Money to Help Italian Earthquake Victims*
By Anna Scanlon
Refugees and asylum seekers in Italy have given up some or all of their daily allowances in order to aid the relief efforts in the aftermath of an earthquake in three small mountain communities that killed nearly 250 people.
The 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck on August 24 in the wee hours of the morning, devastating several homes and ending hundreds of lives 85 miles east of the capital of Rome.
Seventy-five refugees living in a shelter sponsored by Protection System for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (otherwise known as the Sprar Project) in the south-western Italian town of Gioiosa Ionica (Calabria) gave up the small sum of money that they live on each day to make a donation to those also in need. The refugees are given approximately €2.50 per day to live on, so they rallied together to make a €200 donation as a symbol of solidarity to those in need in their new country.
Arquata del Tronto, one of the most badly affected towns, is covered in rubble and debris. However, crews of refugees didn’t just stop at their €200 donation. Some, like Abdullai, an asylum seeker from Benin, have decided to volunteer by helping clean up the debris and possibly rescue people who may still be buried under the rubble.
Adullai said of his work,
“ I understood that they needed as much help as possible, and I want to do my part. I am a bit tired. But helping these people makes me feel very strong too. This work is much more beautiful than a paid job, and I’ll come back as soon as possible.”
Letizia Bellabarba, a coordinator of GUS, a charity that helps asylum seekers, says that the refugees feel that Italy welcomed them with open arms, so many people just want to give back. In working with the local community, they are also helping bust myths and stereotypes about refugees and asylum seekers.
Bellabarba stated that about 50 people hosted by GUS have decided to use their time to help with earthquake relief.
Some of the organizations that are helping provide relief efforts will be hosting those displaced by the disaster.