Reporting has high priority in any financial statements. Two – plates (“bi – lances” in Latin), revenues in one, expenses in the other. We are therefore in the realm of arithmetic and we are dealing with figures. For my part, I confess that I have never particularly courted them, at least directly, since my school apprenticeship, while I preferred the humanities and a discipline – music – for which mathematics was an instrument and not an end.
However, a great philosopher and mathematician of antiquity, Pythagoras, indeed reminds us that “Number rules the universe”. And over two millennia later, another giant of thought, Goethe, broadens the reflection by commenting: “It has been said that figures rule the world. Maybe. But I am sure that figures show us whether it is being ruled well or badly.”
While leaving the due and detailed description to the many pages below and to much more skilled staff, I would still like to scroll through the figures of this extended family, the foundation that collects under my name all of your names as well…. The figures summing up the year just ended and the seven years of life of the young and lively Andrea Bocelli Foundation.
There are 5 members of the Board of Directors and 6 employees. ABF has 5 members of the Advisory Board, 8 Country Ambassadors, over 20 consultants and professionals, over 50 international volunteers: that is the team today, a living workshop that in seven years of activity has collected funds for over 26 million Euro. This money has allowed us to implement dozens of projects. Among others, 8 schools (in Italy and Haiti) that guarantee access to education to 3,000 students, training 60 students in the “Voices of Haiti” project, also providing basic health services to 8,000 people in Haiti’s poorest areas, distributing drinking water to over 400,000 people, every day, and assisting 800 families through the HIV programme.
Each calendar of the past seven years shows a precise intention, on the path to growth. What matters to us is the achievement, through a systemic approach, of intervention models in education. Haiti – a particularly needy country – is the place where we have indeed shaped and solidified a model of school-community, where the space for education is also a place of reference for the entire community. We are now able to replicate and export this model, obviously with the adaptations required by the individual context.
2018 was a turning point, indeed in this direction. And it has been possible to extend the “Break the Barriers” intervention programme – promoting education, health and social integration – to my beloved Italy as well. Here, we have rebuilt a school near Sarnano and we are building one in Muccia (both severely damaged in the 2016 earthquake). We have chosen to act in communities where the sense of belonging, of solidarity, of cooperation offered a solid base, able to be leveraged by our projects, aimed at fostering opportunities for growth and development.
In Sarnano, where ABF directly manages 1400 square metres including school, gym and special workshops, our contribution has focused on consistently advancing the concept of school-community. Music is one of the strengths here, building a virtuous circle that starts at school, with its potential and available instruments, involving teachers and communities, and that solely focuses on supporting our young people’s growth.
In Muccia, which is subject to a high depopulation risk, and where over 90% of the houses are inhabitable, we have replicated the school model, and extended it to include several school cycles. We have also established innovative school curricula, also based on music and full-time, to attract children from neighbouring municipalities, and obviously to keep the children of Muccia’s inhabitant there.
Making both public and private institutions aware of the potential of a concrete and winning model matters to us: we have shown that if there is a will, a beautiful, modern and anti-seismic school can be built in one hundred and fifty days…. Less than six months.
I cannot but mention, speaking of children, who are at the heart and focus of ABF projects, the “Voices of Haiti” choir, embodying one of the educational programmes that the foundation set up in Haiti with the local partner Fondation St Luc, always with a view to boost talent. In 2018, the choir training cycle achieved a conspicuous didactic goal, to the point that our little choristers were able to record two songs from the LP “Sì”, and then joined yours truly in two events in December in New York, in front of the twenty thousand-strong audience of the Madison Square Garden.
Much more was done, last year, by ABF hence thanks to your support, your time, your trust: from education to empowering, from health projects to activating aid in humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters… Up to the “Challenges” programme which is ongoing, in cooperation with MIT, with the aim of designing a device to increase the autonomy of blind people.
But much more is in the pipeline – in both the foundation’s large intervention programmes – and in many cases, already being implemented this year: medium to long-term projects, that will eventually build new opportunities as well as new synergies, with both public and private partners.
There are many challenges to be tackled, therefore: in the world as well as in Italy, starting with the cultural cooperation project with the Municipality of Florence, by building an actual “cultural and social condo” at the extraordinary San Firenze complex, which today houses the Franco Zeffirelli International Centre for the Performing Arts and which will be our new main seat of operations.
I’ll end by reminding you to check our periodic ABF newsletters for updates and detailed information on new and ongoing projects. Many thanks and I look forward to meeting you again in person, along the path that we are still walking together, joining forces to do good.