“But when are we going to see it?” 50 children, and us from ABF, and the mayor, the teachers and the technicians… 50 pink and blue smocks, as well as black ones for the older kids: all gathered around the renderings of their new school. They are the students of “E. De Amicis”, crouched around the images of the project. “Right now they’re laying the foundations so it will be a solid and earthquake-proof place – replies our president, Laura Biancalani, reassuring the impatient child – But when its sunny, when spring is here, these designs will become a reality, and you’ll be able to touch it with your own hands”.

Now that, in these lines, I have the pleasure of sharing the emotions of that meeting held on January 18, with our main, little partners (the future beneficiaries of Muccia’s reconstructed pre-school and elementary school), the sun and spring are even starting to rear their heads along the course of the Chienti River and over the rolling hills of the Marche.

The school’s perimeter walls have been raised and the building has taken shape, in line with the planned schedule. Just like last year for the Sarnano school building (a town, like Muccia, that was severely hit by the well-known earthquakes that occurred in 2016), once again here you can follow the progress of the work in real time, in a time lapse, from the ABF site.

Today, that child can already see her new school. She – along with many of her school companions – witnessed the demolition of what was left of the old structure, which was destroyed by the earthquake. This little girl who is continuing her schooling in a container, is waiting for us to finish what we promised as quickly as possible and as well as possible.

Yet, let’s go back to that meeting in Muccia, to that winter day that was, nonetheless, so full of spring. Certain phrases and reactions are crystallized in my memory as if they were a film sequence…

Acquarelli?” Her classmate, a little boy who is still learning to read, mistakenly read the Italian word for watercolors. “Of course you’ll get to do watercolors too, but what this actually says is “acquario” – aquarium”. There will be an aquarium, and a piano too, which you’ll be able to see as soon as you enter the school”. This is the beautiful part, actually, it is the wonderful part, of being able to intervene in a community and get close to it with the desire of meeting them at a human level, first and foremost. We had already met the thousand souls who live in Muccia in the fall and we became part of their curious, generous and surprising children’s dream.

Together with the designer and supervising officer, engineer Paolo Bianchi, and along with the educationalist, Dr. Sara Zengoni, we asked the children about their ideal school and we discussed it (and I mean a real discussion, because their imagination often goes beyond our adult rationality), because this challenge was their challenge, right from the start. We, adults and children, symbolically took each other by the hand. We gathered their drawings, and asked them what colors and spaces they would like, for learning, coming together, playing and growing. And now the challenge is meeting their expectations, as soon as possible, keeping a promise that – as it was made to children – is, if possible, even more sacred, even more irrevocable.

Vivi is sad”, our friend, the educationalist, Dr. Sara notices, stroking her hair. The reason makes us all smile: Viviana is in fifth grade and next year, she will have to look at the new school from the outside only. But we’ve got good news for her, which is confirmed by the architects Francesco and Nina Barberini (who are designing the layout of the interiors) and by the engineer, Mr. Pesce, who will oversee the work. “You can come in when you want. There are also rooms for older children and even ones for adults… It will be a school, but not just a school. It’s lovely to be able to continue learning forever, at any age”.

Even my little Virginia was on the ABF team on that wonderful day in Muccia. She was the youngest, yet she was also the first out of all of us who was able to connect with our amazing little friends and partners. After singing together, they gave her a plaque to give to Andrea, which today is displayed in our home, amongst the trophies that we are most proud of: a square shaped from play dough, in relief, with a large, vermilion-red heart and a treble clef… “Muccia ❤ ABF”.

Together with Andrea (who sent his thanks for the beautiful gift via video message), together with the Bocelli family and the big ABF family, we reply by setting a date for when we can before long, enter the new school together and celebrate by raising a toast to the future of a region and a community.

We reply in perhaps the least formal, yet most genuine and heartfelt way, which the children taught us: ABF ❤ Muccia!

By ABF President, Laura Biancalani