Before being here I had not idea about it. Ok, I could have imagined something but I had not a real stable vision about the volunteers’ reasons. I guessed they were that kind of people who chosen to become volunteer simply wanted to meet others people, to make an interesting experience, to enjoy yourself and maybe to take more time before deciding something serious about their life. This happened before I decided to became a volunteer me too. I mean, I do not think there is something wrong in these explanations, just I understood the most important reason is something else.
The night of November 20th-21th the twenty three years old Italian volunteer Silvia Romano was kidnapped. She was in a small African village in the north of Malindi, in Kenya, called Chamaka. She worked for an association that deals with African children of that village. The main project of this small association is to build an orphanotrophy house in the village of Chamaka and in general to support the orphaned children’s education. Silvia was an acrobatic instructor in Milan but she decided to collaborate with this organization and to go in Africa after her degree in linguistic mediation. She left in the last July and she came back Italy in September. Actually she should come back to work in the gym, but she said them that she would quite because she felt the need to continue to work on that project in Africa. Indeed Silvia came back Chamaka’s village in October and she kept working there. Everything was going good, she was trying to gather money to finance the purchase of a tank to recover rainwater and use it for the activities in the playroom they created there. Nonetheless the night of 21th November she was kidnapped. A group of people broke into the village and started shooting against everyone by hitting children too. They did not care of nothing except to take the “foreigner one”. So they get in her accommodation, they slapped her and dragged her by force away from the village.
The day after the news of her kidnapping came in Italy. Most of the Italian people were so worried for her and tried to express solidarity for her and anger for what it happened and closeness to her family through social media. I was one of these. I remember when I saw her picture: I recognized my smile in hers, the same lights there is in my eyes in hers. Let is say I saw my self in that picture. It could happen the same to me, I mean. I would have loved to do something to help her, to explain to her kidnappers that they did a very big mistake, by kidnapping people in general of course but especially by kidnapping a person like her. In the one hand a lot of Italian people thought the same. On the other hand, however, there were a lot of Italian people who said she is guilty for what it happened because she should not have gone there. She should have stayed in Italy to help Italian people! Too much Italian people spoke in this way. Someone said she is an “oca giuliva”, it means a girl just looking for men’s attention and “high emotions”, and expressed the wish that “those savages teach her sexual manners”. I was so impressed from these hate speech. They really sucked to me. A really good Italian cartoonist drew this excellent comic strip to respond to these disgusting insults.
Little Red Riding Hood why didn’t leave in your home. And the answer is: to don’t get lost in your cliché.
As I started explaining at the beginning, before becoming a volunteer I did not know what pushes people to do what I am doing right now, the volunteer. I guess I have found the answer here. People like Silvia, like me, like the plenty volunteers in the world leave their countries to try to do something more, for the others people and for themselves. Basically, this kind of people try to make the whole society to improve. That is it.
Unfortunately after forty days we do not know where Silvia is. That is happening because until now African institutions did not care about these pastoral villages lost in the countryside and these African people living there do not trust in institutions at all and in police too who arrived there just to investigate on her kidnapping and liberate her. They are used to survive by themselves and for that reason some of them are not helping the police by giving right information to find Silvia. To find Silvia without the collaboration of pastoral people living there is kinda impossible because police does not know neither that place, how to get around there. The situation is really serious, I would really slap each person who said shit about this beautiful soul but I cannot waste my time in this way. I prefer focus all my thoughts on Silvia and try to send her my energies to resist still more a bit. Because, as she wrote on her FB profile the last August when she already was in her African village, “we survive through what we receive but we live by what we give”.
Liberate Silvia Romano right now! We all need her.
Written by: Vannesa Torcasso