If there is one thing that has not stopped over the Ferragosto period, it is the arrival of "boatloads of sorrow" carrying migrants seeking refuge and hope in Europe. Amongst so much sadness, today I can bring you a story which proves that Italy, as we all knew, has a great heart:
A few days ago, a thirteen-year-old Egyptian boy called Ahmed was found on a migrant boat and he was clutching a medical certificate wrapped in plastic as if it were a treasure. The certificate proved that his seven-year-old brother Farid, then still in Egypt, is suffering from the blood disease thrombocytopenia and Ahmed had boarded a migrant boat in order to find help for his sibling.
He spent much of his journey hidden in an animal crate - this despite a promissory note for EGP 2,000 which his uncle had handed to the traffickers - and some of the events he had witnessed along the way are truly shocking. He thought he would die on the journey.
Ahmed had decided to take this risk after hearing his parents and other members of his family talking about his brother's plight: Egyptian doctors had already carried out one operation and a second would cost EGP 50,000. How could a family of date pickers find this sum? Thus it was that Ahmed, determined to find work to pay for any medical treatment his brother might receive in Europe, made the dangerous crossing.
"I'm asking for help from doctors and hospitals in Italy but I'll work to pay for everything", he told a volunteer on Lampedusa. "My dream is to see my little brother playing football with me."
Ahmed was transferred to Florence today and there the NPO Fondazione Careggi had already set about raising funds to help the family. Tuscan Regional Councillor for Health Stefania Saccardi said,
"We wanted to respond to Ahmed's great gesture of love for his brother with a gesture of love of our own."
Farid and his parents will be joining Ahmed in Florence later today and the Meyer Hospital, with help from doctors at the Careggi, is standing by to treat Farid. The Palermo Children's Hospital has also offered to help.
Well done, Italy. I'm sure my readers would wish me to express, in turn, our love for you.