Let experience touch you, let it reach you, involve, shake and change you. Put yourself into play, in touch with the others. This is what I am wishing you, so that an unknown person, especially when needy, difficult, or may be, apparently, cumbersome, ceases to be an indefinite mass, ceases to be unnamed.
In spring I returned to Haiti, together with my family and with the ABF extended family: a visit marked by a dense agenda, because there was so much to do, so many distances to go, so many people to shake hands with, and, unfortunately, too little time to listen to them with the due calm.
We watched the animated task of water distribution in the slum of Cité Soleil: the weather conditions – a heavy rain –made us understand, even more clearly, if possible, the urgency of this service, giving us a clearer perception of what and how many health hazards can be hidden in the mud flowing away from the uncertain shelters, compromising the health of people mostly of children.
Our visit has also given us the opportunity to reflect on a new project (that will soon be official, I hope), a further initiative of ABF: to build an island of solicitude and help in the ocean of this slum where over four hundred thousand people live in shacks of metal sheet and rags, next to the open sewers and rubbish of Port-au-Prince.
In the slum, for the occasion, my son Matteo also gave birth to an unexpected musical moment, for the joy of the children who were there: in front of many eyes full of curiosity, he sang, a cappella, an Italian Romanza, holding, in his arms, at the same time, Virginia who, every now and then, would hung from his neck, in the general hustle and bustle…but it was a moment of great emotion for everyone.
In the course of the mission to Haiti we also went to De Varenne Grande Rivière, in the unspoilt south of the Island, to open a new ABF teaching structure, the only educational centre in the area: a corner of paradise, as far as the landscape, but where people can still die for trivial pathologies. The school will accommodate up to four hundred students, offering them a training course that will strive to keep in line with the international standards. The school will also host the ‘Mobile Clinic’ project, becoming periodically a Healthcare Presidium for the local community.
I also wanted to keep a promise I had made to the young members of the choir “Voices of Haiti”, (who will be soon in Italy, for their second tour) I had told them I would soon come and visit them and their parents. And so it was for each of the sixty singers…We made music together, we took a lot of souvenir photos and we explained to the families, in depth, the motivations of the project and the various stages of the educational project, thus consolidating a relationship of trust, precious also in view of offering a quiet study pathway to children.
But it is not only in the fourth world of the Caribbean island that we must and can be touched by experience, reached and be involved by the meeting with our Neighbors. Without crossing the ocean, our Neighbors are also those whom we can meet right outside our doorstep, recognizing their needs.
In Italy, what stops the works of public utility supported by those who are sensitive to social urgencies, are not tropical hurricanes but other sorts of scourge: a jungle of bureaucracy that seems unwilling to help those who want to help. Equally, ABF together with a philanthropist partner to whom we are linked by great friendship and esteem, is finally ready to start an important project, to do its part in giving back a serene life to the populations affected by the earthquake, last summer.
While the Summer that we will welcome, right in the next few hours, will be a very important time for the Foundation that will be involved in small and big events …Also of a global reach like the concert of September 8th at the Colosseum (within Celebrity Fight Night events) where I will have the pleasure to sing with Elton John, Steve Tyler, Sumi Jo, Stefano Bollani and many other colleagues.
I wish you all, friends of the Foundation, to go on with the usual enthusiasm, to let yourselves be touched by experience, to be reached and be involved by the invaluable beauty of giving and being useful to your Neighbors. Your ‘Neighbors’, who are, inevitably, single stories and people, to whom give a face and a name. And this is possible only by acting.
To you I am asking, full of gratitude, to go on following us with your affection, contributing to this extraordinary laboratory that is ABF and that, as I always say, has my name but should be, instead, named after each of you.