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June 5 2013 | GENOA, ITALY

A home to help and be helped in the outskirts of Genoa

Inaugurated in Cornigliano by card. Angelo Bagnasco, it welcomes initiatives of solidarity for the youth, the elderly and families in need

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"A house, not just the headquarters." Many have noticed this fact on Friday, May 31, during the inauguration of the new premises that will host the activities of the Community of Sant'Egidio in the Genoese quarter of Cornigliano: with a bright and welcoming "where everyone can find a family to help or be helped. "

At Via Gattorno, a beautiful tree-lined street, in the heart of the western outskirts of the city, there were hundreds of people, representing thirty years of friendship between the Community of Sant'Egidio and the neighborhood: Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco has blessed the premises, with the presence of the President of the Liguria Region, Claudio Burlando, the Deputy Mayor Stefano Bernini and the leaders of the Fondazione Carige, who renovated the house.

Together with them, the Community of Sant'Egidio, which collects in the neighborhood - with the weekly prayer and the visits to a home for the elderlyl, with the homeless - and lots of friends: young people, the elderly, immigrants, children, disabled.

Cardinal Bagnasco wanted to emphasize that the creation of a family space, not anonymous, is the answer to the most significant problems of the people of our time, "the first necessity - he explained - in which the bread is not material, but spiritual, the proximity of someone that makes us feel that we are not alone or invisible. For this reason there is need of the family, the Christian community, the social fabric of the neighborhood, no one can live alone. "

Speaking on behalf of the Community of Sant'Egidio, Andrea Chiappori said: "Pope Francesco says that from the suburbs is the better way to understand the world and the city. We feel it's true and I would add that, from the suburbs, we  understand ourselves better as well. "

In the eight rooms - decorated with the support of the State Railways - and in the magnificent garden will meet very different people: there will be children and young people of the neighborhood - Ecuadorians, North Africans, Italians, Albanians - gathered in the School of Peace by young volunteers of the Community, high school and university students. Then the movement of the Friends, with the "art school" and the young people of the school of Italian language and culture.

Sant'Egidio - which is present in Genoa since 1976 - began to operate in Cornigliano thirty years ago. It was the time of the "Gang of the Smurfs," children between the ages of eleven and fifteen who spread terror in the western city: for them, and for their peers, some young Genoes estudents  created the School of Peace, an alternative space to the logic of violence, away from the street, from drugs, from the specter of AIDS.

In recent years Cornigliano has changed: today it is a nice neighborhood, healed. But there are new challenges such as the elderly, who are more and more numerous, and the reception of immigrants, particularly with respect to young people who are from Latin America. But above all, this is an area that had a long tradition of battles: a strong rooted identity. Today we need to find something that rejoins the different souls, looking for some ways to learn again how to live together.

And people look with curiosity and sympathy that presence: many "neighbours" have appeared in front of the open gate in via Gattorno. Some have sent flowers and small gifts. The hairdresser Patrizia added a note: "a warm welcome to you who helped so many people and, above all, help regain dignity."

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