A single community, a single planet

Solidarity is the feeling that makes us human.

It was the afternoon of the 22nd May when an email appeared in my inbox with the subject: Being on the other side. It was from Doctors Without Borders, and was signed by Monica Minardi, the president of MSF Italy. Minardi, who lives in Imola, described the flood of the 17th May in Romagna and how she found herself in danger, in need of help. She, her house and her family were isolated and surrounded by the water that had devastated everything.

"For one day, for once in my life, I was on the side of those receiving help, and I understood what it means", she wrote in the text. "We heard the helicopter arriving and we ran to the window to signal that we were there. We tried to climb onto the roof, but we weren't sure it would hold us, so we went down to the ground floor, up to our belly buttons in the freezing, fetid water. Five of us plus the dog."

I read her email with a lump in my throat. Because in those same days, my house had also been buried in mud. I also needed help, and I felt, thick and enveloping, the energy of solidarity.

"One day you are the helper, and the day after you receive help. There are no heroes in these stories, there are no pedestals; we are all in it together and everyone does what he can."

So what is solidarity? This word, that echoed all around in the days after the disaster? I have asked myself, many times. And I also asked Monica Minardi.

"When the men and women of the Civil Protection left, after working with us for several days to help us free the house of mud, I was so moved", Minardi tells me. "Being with them, I felt the true pleasure and joy those people had in being there in that moment, because for them too it was a significant experience. One day you are the helper, and the day after you receive help. Solidarity moves in a circle."

Like an energy that can change things and inspire, solidarity is what moved thousands of volunteers to travel to Romagna to give us a hand removing the mud, or what motivates those who, every day - through a donation - support the work of organisations that provide tangible help to those in need.

"We in the West feel as if we are on the privileged side compared to other situations, but, as I wrote spontaneously in my reflection, it is in moments when we experience interactions of this intensity that we understand that we are all connected, and with connections that go beyond what we can even imagine. When you feel vulnerable, naked, the encounters you have are also a lot more intense."

Knowing that help will come is the most comforting thought when you experience dangerous situations", Minardi continues. "It was the aspect that stopped us from losing hope. I had come back the previous March from a very risky mission in Ethiopia, and in those days I had moments of fear and felt as if I was at the edge of the world; but I felt much more vulnerable here, during the flood, despite the certainty that help was coming. I can't imagine how it must be for those who don't even have that hope, for themselves or their children."

This is another reason why it is important to participate in the work of organisations like Doctors Without Borders, which has been dedicated to managing hospitals, clinics and nutritional centres, routine and war surgery, the fight against epidemics and psychological support for the victims of trauma and wars since 1971.

"100% of MSF Italy's income has always come from private donations. We do not receive public funds, in order to allow us to remain independent and pursue our goal, which is to guarantee access to treatment, everywhere."

Minardi has been President of MSF Italy since 2022, in previous years she was a member of the board, and her first mission dates back to 2000.

"The organisation has grown a lot since I started, but it has never lost the same vision and strong sense of solidarity, which is at the heart of the experience that created us. Medical treatment is dignity, physical and mental health is a fundamental need, and access to medical treatment is an inalienable right for all. The challenges change, attacks on hospitals and healthcare facilities are very frequent during conflicts, and there is a real attack on medical action. We continue to offer treatment, accounts, and we report difficult situations in favour of people's health."

Impartial, independent, neutral: these are the values that MSF has followed since its foundation, along with numerous medical activities in the places where there is most need, saving lives in the midst of wars, epidemics or natural disasters.

"For me, solidarity has to do with the concept of relationships, and is necessary for all of us, in order to feel better and improve as individuals and communities. When we are exposed to suffering, we all want to try to help and receive help. Solidarity is   force that inherently belongs to human beings, which is part of all of us. Some people haven't been exposed and don't know they have it, but it is a value that binds us all together. The joy of those who give is pure vital energy".

Solidarity is an innate talent in every human being: some are aware of it and use it, and some are unaware and don't think they have it, and some others have never had the opportunity to activate it. It comes out of the awareness of brotherhood, from the conviction that humans form a single family, a single community and a single planet.


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N° 13


What material are the "links" that connect one human to another made of?
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