Italy, Special #CALLTOGENFEST: Luana’s experience
Luana Gravina is 30 years old and she is from Enna, Sicily. Last September she participated in the eleventh Youth World Peace Forum. In her contribution to #calltogenfest, the awareness that peace begins with everyone’s commitment.
«From September 16 to 26, 2017, I attended the eleventh World Peace Forum along with 95 young people from 26 countries. Each of us came from different realities, such as Caritas, Scout, Not from the war, Amnesty International, and Living Peace International. But we all had the same goal, to give ourselves totally to others. Our slogan was also the title of Camp, NOW IS THE TIME. Now is the time! Time to do something, now is the time to act, now is the time for peace. This, in fact, was the purpose of the project, to work for peace through concrete actions.
Everything took place in Madaba, a city that, like many others in Jordan, is home to thousands of Syrian, Iraqi, and Egyptian refugees fleeing the war we hear about every day. Our lodgings were containers installed in the courtyard of a church, which for two years had been hosting refugee families.
Every day we were divided into groups and in shifts we carried out various kinds of activities along with the locals: playing with children, renovating the homes of the poorest families, distributing the donations of Caritas, or painting mandalas for children hospitalized in the paediatric ward of the Madaba hospital. One afternoon I played with about 80 children who did nothing but talk to me in Arabic … You can imagine, I am even in trouble with English… But when it came to throwing a ball or flying a hula-hoop, all linguistic or cultural barriers collapsed. Despite their dirty faces and the evident poverty in which they grew, they all displayed a bright smile. When we distributed the snack – and there was not always enough for everyone -, the children were masters in teaching us the art of sharing.
Another day we visited two Iraqi refugee families, who had escaped from ISIS overnight without taking anything with them. A man had a very bad foot injury due to the explosion of a car near him. Some of their relatives had been killed or kidnapped. And those who survived cannot go back to their homes because ISIS has put bombs that blow up as soon as you open the door. It was very impacting seeing with our own eyes what you just watch on TV and seems light years away from you; these people have a degree, they had a job, a nice house, they had dreams and projects for themselves and their children. And now they are forced to ask for help from Caritas or the Church. Despite everything they welcomed us with great dignity, they shared their stories and a cup of tea or coffee.
We were about 20 members of the Focolare Movement and every day we tried to be true witnesses to the Ideal of Unity. For example, during a renovation of the home of a refugee family, a gen girl noticed that all young people were painting the walls, but nobody talked to the landlady. So, she went to talk to her, speaking gestures because she did not speak any Arabic and later, everyone else followed her. For us, in fact, the important thing was not “what” we did, but “how” we did it. And our “how” is building relationships and always looking for the good of others.
The reality in which we have been plunging made us more aware that the war we hear about on the news is not made up of numbers, but of people and we got to know those people, we played with their children, we entered their houses and their living rooms, we have taken tea together and this is the reason why from now on, what happens there, is happening to my friends.
The last two days of the Camp we took part in the eleventh World Peace Forum, an event that brought together in Madaba about one thousand people from various organizations who work for peace all over the world. Associations, political and religious authorities, young volunteers … we were all peacemakers. In the middle of songs, dances, and shared experiences, those two days made me mature the awareness that so many people in the world spend their time and energy to make peace possible. Until that moment I did not figure it out.
Peace is a distant target, but we must not think that what we are doing is not enough, because if I did not do the little things I do, no one would do them for me. By putting together our “little things” we will make this world the place we all dream of».