In the face of the controversial attitudes towards the numerous refugees arriving in Europe, the welcoming gesture of an Italian clerk who offered what he had to make friends, as the Word of Life invites us to do in the month of February.
“I am a clerk and I live in Catanzaro. While participating in a meeting with friends who are committed to social work, I got to know that some young foreigners living in a centre for refugees, needed bicycles to go to work.
I remembered that in my garage there were two mountain bikes, still in good condition. These bikes meant a lot to me, since they reminded me of the many long mountain excursions I had with my son. Without hesitating I raised my hand to offer them. But to have them brought to the destination, there some difficulties to overcome. Sometime later I found out that these friends had organised for the end of January, a three-day convention in a touristic village near the residence of the refugees, and in which I was invited to participate.
You cannot imagine the joy I felt with this news. I myself could bring these bikes – at zero time frames and costs – and furthermore I could deliver them directly to the beneficiaries and have the chance to meet them.
There was, however, another hindrance: the bikes were too bulky and I couldn’t fit them into the boot of my car. Not knowing what to do, I asked a neighbor who deals with used objects, if he had a solution. But when he found out that I wanted to give the bikes to refugees, he started saying that it was better to give them to him since he would earn something, and that he thought “it was not opportune to help these strangers who come to our country to grab from us the little job opportunities there are, and create many problems and social strife.” But on seeing that I kept my grounds on my decision, he said that the car of a common friend of ours had two bike racks, and which was exactly what I needed. When asked, this friend instead was very willing and glad to give me his bike rack.
Things proceeded at best. On the set day, four young refugees came to the place of our seminar to retrieve the bikes. The minute they saw the bikes that were still mounted on the top of the car, I saw their eyes light up. They had perhaps thought of retrieving some old rusty bikes, and instead these were nice, new and in perfect working order. We were all happy. Then, shyly, but with great dignity they thanked us saying that they were poor and had nothing to give us in return, but that the same evening they would return to sing their songs with their drum, during the Eucharistic celebration. I am convinced that the friendship that was established will remain.” (Domenico, Italy)