Gennaro Giudetti's commitment in international volunteering to bring back a humane approach where it is denied.
Gennaro Giudetti is 27 years old, he is from Taranto and along with the crew of the Sea Watch 3 ship of the Sea Watch NGO, on November 6th he took part in the rescue of 58 migrant shipwrecked persons in the Mediterranean Sea, 30 nautical miles from the Libyan coast, in international waters, while Libya's Coast Guard, that was already at the site, was hindering rescue operations.
The “Vita” newspaper published a touching article reporting the event. Impressed by his interview and by the intense passion he clearly has for his volunteering engagement, we reached him on the phone as he arrived at Pozzallo, Sicily, still aboard Sea Watch 3, along with the shipwrecked persons who had been saved with his help.
"I'm tired, my arms hurt, and I'm sad because we could not save more people. It is unacceptable that people die this way, while traveling, full of hope for the future, just because you were born in the ‘wrong’ part of the world," he steams out.
Gennaro's passion for international volunteering came about seven years ago when, immediately after his graduation, he left for a civil service experience in Albania. After that, he never stopped: first he spent six months in Kenya, then he went to Colombia where, with the Operazione Colomba (Operation Dove), he became part of the Nonviolent Peace Corps of the Associazione Papa Giovanni XXIII (Pope John XXIII Association).
"As a matter of fact, we were a non-military escort to the San José de Apartado Peace Community, Department of Antioquia, in the North West of Colombia, which included approximately 1,500 members. As foreigners we were at their side to prevent them from being targeted by the guerrillas and used as a defensive shield. Unfortunately, in fact, whenever a foreigner is injured or killed, it will be in the public eye whereas it might not become public if a local person is murdered."
The civil community of San José de Apartado made a courageous choice in the context of the armed conflict between the guerrillas (especially the FARCs), the Colombian Armed Forces, and the paramilitary groups, as stated in the Operation Dove website:
"Do not participate in the war, whether directly or indirectly; do not hold weapons of any kind; refrain from giving support to the parties in conflict; do not ask for help from armed people to solve personal or family problems; do not manipulate or give information to any of the parties actively involved in the conflict; to engage in community work; not to accept any form of injustice and impunity connected to the events."
In the time that he was with them, Gennaro shared their lives, their poverty, and their risks, and along with the other volunteers he accompanied and protected them in their movements, which allowed them to carry on their daily activities.
"It's my way of making a contribution ... to bring a humane approach wherever there is none. It's like telling these people that we are with them, that they are not alone, that they do not have to pay this price simply because they were born in the wrong part of the world," he told me one more time.
After Colombia, Gennaro took part in missions in Palestine and Lebanon, where he learned Arabic, the language he chose to became a cultural mediator. This allowed him to collaborate, with various agencies, such as Sea Watch and others, in the rescue and the reception of migrants in our country.
"The Mediterranean Sea, for a citizen of Taranto as I am, for all the Italians who live along its coast, has always been such an important sea! But now it has become a place of death. What I try to do, what we are trying to do," he explains, and you could perceive an intense emotion in his voice, "is to bring back our sense of humanity into the Mediterranean Sea. I never accepted any form of injustice, this is why I am trying to make my contribution. I want these people to perceive that they are not alone, that we are not going to abandon them. This is what I repeat to all of them, all the time: you are not alone, we are not going to leave you alone, let us remain together, because together we can make it. I want to share my time with you."
Now, for Gennaro, it is time to moor, to recover his sleepless hours during which many faces, the physical fatigue, and the acts of violence they have seen and lived together came back to him. Later on, with Sea Watch 3 and its crew made up of courageous volunteers he will sail again, because the calm sea makes them forecast new arrivals.