The RImPRESA Project started off!
It is aimed at offering a support to the recovery of many small productive, trade, and tourism businesses affected by the earthquake in Central Italy, in the areas along the Via Salaria, in the territory between Amatrice and Ascoli Piceno, in the Val Nerina and in the Abruzzo Region. Rural areas, whose economy was mainly based on agriculture and sheep and cattle livestock, and whose customers were their same population along with tourists who came in summer and for the weekends.
A few days later, Federica left her home, in the Southern Province of Rome, officially:«To go and check the condition of the house inherited by my husband». In fact, as she adds «Because Roberto and his family were from Accumoli. After his death, we created an association of social promotion called Abbraccio planetario (Planetary Hug) to carry out actions that promote the values in which he believed, such as the care and love for our neighbours, especially the weakest. I went to Accumoli because I wanted to see with my own eyes the actual situation and what we could do to help them».
Federica finds out that the family home has been damaged and is unusable, but what strikes her the most is the generosity of the people she meets: «I went there to give comfort, and I came back with a car full of biscuits, tomatoes, and fresh salad. And in my mind the constant sound of the request of a lady, a neighbor who had begged me: Help us to preserve our history!».
Then, with the aftershocks of October 30, 2016, everything fell apart. What could we do?
Federica wrote to her friends. She got in touch with some journalists but also with people who for years have been living the experience of shared economy, like Antonella, who runs a fair trade general store in Rome.
«Talking it over with Antonella we immediately thought of creating a fair trade purchasing group (called G.A.S. in Italy) with the purpose of helping businesses in the earthquake-affected area».
Antonella drafted the project. Meanwhile, Federica got in touch with the AMU, an NGO of the Focolare Movement which is raising funds to help earthquake victims in Central Italy:
«The AMU had informed us that the A. I. P. E. C. – the Italian Association for an Economy of Communion – wanted to support entrepreneurs in the areas affected by the earthquake, and they proposed us to work together. We accepted. Now, our project has two legs, it walks better, and much faster.»
The collaboration among the Association Abbraccio planetario, AMU, and AIPEC generated the "Rimpresa" Project, which also includes the Association of Social Promotion “B & F Foundation”, based in the town of Ascoli Piceno.
The Project, as we said, has two legs. On the one hand, the support of AIPEC which aims to create a support network for the supply of raw material, machinery, and premises to damaged businesses. On the other hand, a network of fair trade purchasing groups (G.A.S.) whose objectives are selling “0 Km” products and products from biological agriculture, promoting local tourism, and organizing food and wine events.
But any help that really wants to be "useful" must necessarily pass through the filter of reality.
Antonella tells us:«We went several times to the earthquake-affected areas. We met people, their suffering, and we experienced with them the ghostly silence of certain areas that used to be central and now are just a pile of crumbs. Only in this way we have been able to figure out how we could help them. We realized that there was no point in taking action before Christmas, because many were very active, but often, in a non-sustainable way for the locals, who were already exhausted by the earthquake. We concluded that the best help would be to guarantee from January onwards, a constant purchasing activity.»
Today, there are four GAS dedicated by the Rimpresa Project to the earthquake-affected areas, scattered between the Province of Rome and the city of Ascoli Piceno - the latter linked to the B & F Foundation, which is also the portal through which all orders are collected.
Among the products in the “basket”: emmer, jams from wild fruits, mushrooms, meat from local farms, honey, cheese, and salami.
«At the moment,» Antonella adds, «many of these production, trade, and tourism activities are unworkable; in addition, it is necessary to create a catchment and consumption area outside the zones affected by the earthquake, so that businesses are not forced to close down. The earthquake is moving the businesses? Then, we shall shift the purchases!»
The members of the GAS will be given the opportunity to place orders through a special IT platform, meet and get to know the producers during events organized for the occasion, and attend guided tours of the businesses. By doing this, buyers will be not only consumers, but citizens in solidarity who will contribute effectively to a long-term recovery by ensuring continuous purchases.
The shortening of the supply chain will also allow for competitive prices, in the perspective of a sustainable development of the businesses and the whole region.
In this way, the RImPRESA Project aims to a post-earthquake renaissance, also having recourse to the practise of labour therapy, and the resilience of the people involved because, as emphasized by many in their talks with Antonella and Federica:
«Just with the money we can raise, it goes a little far. For us, the crucial issue is work. This is the only way to revive the local economy and support us, by saving our work!»