DOING GOOD BY EATING BETTER
Benedetta Capelli – Vatican City
“The holiness to which the Lord calls you grows through small good deeds in daily life.” This phrase from Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation “Gaudete et Exsultate” comes to mind when one encounters realities that spend themselves alongside those who are suffering or fight to ensure a future for those in need. This is the case of “Gateway to Heaven Onlus” and “Valuable” who, tomorrow night, have organized a charity drive to support the projects in which they are engaged. This is a tasting of products from companies under “Italian Best Food” and will be held in Rome at the Elizabeth Unique Hotel.
Gate of Heaven Onlus, alongside families
“Our non-profit organization, which to date deals with 15 to 25 cases a year, was born in 2008 after a pilgrimage to Medjugorie,” explains Giovanni Luca Zenga, president of the association, “which marked us deeply because we found a living presence of Jesus especially in the simplest people. The need was medical care and consequently travel arrangements to Italy but also economic livelihood for families forced to move. “It all started simply and first of all in favor of the children of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Zenga adds, “then the synergy with Gaslini in Genoa and Bambino Gesù in Rome grew. We lend a hand for everything the families need: travel, lodging but we also provide pastoral support if requested.” “Our goal,” the president of Gate of Heaven Onlus further explains, “is to preserve the personal approach we have with the sick person and his or her family. For us, patients are an asset; they teach us how to deal with life and how to believe in God. Over the years,” he concludes, “I have noticed that these families have produced many conversions in bed neighbors, doctors and even nurses.
Emanuela and Rosaria: two hearts struggling together
Mother and daughter from Naples, a smile always on despite suffering, a strong gratitude for “Gate of Heaven Onlus.” This is the story of Rosaria, mother of Emanuela who is now 21 years old and has a metabolic disorder that has stunted her growth. “I got to know this association through a friend of mine,” Rosaria explains, “but today it is a family for me, supporting me in my travels and psychologically, especially when my daughter has hospitalizations at Bambino Gesù. Rosaria finds strength in faith, constant prayer and Emanuela, her “angel,” “who,” she explains, “is sweet and always prays in the evenings for those worse off than her, never for herself. A woman full of enthusiasm, confident in treatment and the future “because,” she says, “a mother tears her soul and heart out when she has a sick child, but it is precisely the children that give you the drive to keep going.
Valuable, the inclusion of people with disabilities in the world of work
Tomorrow evening’s event will also showcase the efforts of “Valuable,” a European project co-funded by the European Commission and sponsored by the Italian Association of Down People. It is an initiative for the labor inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and involves, in addition to Italy, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Hungary and Turkey. “The restaurant and hospitality sectors,” explains manager Paola Vulterini, “are an opportunity for people with disabilities; the tasks are simple, repetitive. We also offer an app that tutors the person being placed at work; instead of always asking, the app remembers the tasks. There are then 14 videos to raise awareness of the work colleagues who will welcome this person; sometimes we are too protective, sometimes too little. Then there is e-learning for managers and staff to better understand what inclusion and various disabilities are. The originality there is in this project is represented by a label that is given to companies based on the level of inclusion they offer: an internship, a temporary or permanent employment.” There are currently 100 people involved in this initiative, with many of the young people moving to intern abroad in major hotel facilities. “The hotel,” Vulterini explains, “gains because guests notice this attention and are spurred to return to reward their commitment.