“S is 31 years old. He arrived in Italy a little over a month ago, having made an exhausting journey on foot from Pakistan to Milan, via the Balkan route. To make the journey even harder, one of his feet was horribly broken and went untreated.
2019 marked an important milestone for EMERGENCY.
We celebrated our 25th birthday!
On 15 May 1994, a group of friends committed themselves to delivering free, high-quality healthcare to victims of war, poverty and landmines. Since that day, over 10 million people have been treated. Thousands of doctors, nurses, technicians, cooks, and gardeners have been trained and have themselves become change-makers and advocates for their communities. Hundreds of thousands of students throughout Italy have been involved in peace education projects. Millions of people have expressed their refusal to live in a world where war is inevitable.
EMERGENCY’s path has been characterised by a simple mantra: ‘choose not to look the other way’. EMERGENCY is, above all, a project that brings together those who believe in a simple set of inalienable truths: that we are all born equal in dignity and rights, and that it is the responsibility of each one of us to make sure this equality is practiced.
The results achieved over these years are not only a source of satisfaction. Today, more than ever, they help us to understand the present and how to approach the future, determined to achieve more. 25 years ago, the world witnessed the fall of physical and ideological walls and imagined a possibility of global coexistence based on shared rights and values.
Today, unfortunately, we are witnessing a reversion. The selfish protection of ‘our’ privileges; a mistrust of ‘the other’; and a denial of the universal principle that a life in danger should be saved. Fortresses are being reinforced and become more claustrophobic every day as new walls are erected. This latter path is not our way.
Still, we know that this drift is not inevitable, that there are ‘walls’ and ‘walls’.
Walls are not just barriers that close, divide, block.
Walls can be a guarantee of protection and security, like the white walls of our hospitals in Afghanistan, a country exhausted by war.
Walls can be opportunities for a new beginning, such as those of the Sulaymaniyah Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration Centre which seeks to remedy the long-term consequences of war.
Walls can become synonymous with dignity and equality, like those of the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan, where patients from dozens of different countries, sometimes even at war with each other, find themselves side by side in a hospital that guarantees them free, high-quality treatment, simply because it is their right.
Or that red earth wall, designed by a great architect and built thanks to the commitment of devoted professionals and cutting-edge companies. This is the wall of our new Centre of Excellence in Paediatric Surgery in Entebbe, Uganda, which in a few short months will open its doors to treat children from all over Africa. Not just a children’s hospital, but a tangible symbol of collaboration, development and a true alternative to injustice and poverty.
It is on this path that we want to continue working, with the hope of being able to count on the participation of many travel companions. We will continue to be peacemakers, practicing each and every day the fundamental right to treatment. We will work to strengthen, through our testimony, the growth of a responsive and empathetic citizenry. We continue to believe that a better world is possible. It is this path that we will continue to follow, today and tomorrow, more than ever.
Best wishes to all for a more just, supportive and human new year. We can achieve it together.
Rossella Miccio, President of EMERGENCY