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Having celebrated Christmas with a bit of seasonal humour let’s begin the new year with some positive news.
2018 has certainly been an incredibly turbulent and troubling year, especially in terms of international politics. It can often seem that we’ve learnt nothing from the past, and are doomed to repeat our errors ad infinitum. But, despite this, I believe that 2019 will bring many good things. So, let’s start the new year by looking at just a few of the courageous deeds and acts of human kindness that took place in Italy during 2018, events that have not gone unnoticed by our President, Sergio Mattarella.
In an act of wisdom, Sergio Mattarella, il Presidente della Repubblica Italiana (President of the Italian Republic) has used the Onoreficenza al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (New Year’s Honours List) to pay tribute to some of the people who have made positive contributions to society in 2018. In a clear message to the current far right populist politicians who rose to power last year, Mattarella has praised citizens who have acted out against racism and xenophobia, helped the disadvantaged, and brought criminals to justice.
Amongst the 33 citizens who have received la Onoreficenza al Merito della Repubblica Italiana per il 2018 are:
Maria Rosaria Coppola from Napoli, who has been named Ufficiale dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic).
Last November, as she was travelling home from work on the underground, 62 year old Maria Rosaria courageously confronted a racist bully who was insulting a young man from Sri Lanka. Another passenger videoed the episode and posted it on FaceBook where it immediately went viral, turning Maria Rosaria Coppola into an internet hero (see below).
Roberto Crippa and Luisa Fricchione, a husband and wife from the Trento region, have been named Ufficiali dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.
Over the years, the couple have adopted and raised eight Ethiopian orphans, survivors of the Ethiopian civil war. Mattarella praised their ‘extraordinary example of generosity and solidarity’. One of the boys, Yeman, has become a police officer and award winning athlete.
Ilaria Galbusera, 27, from Bergamo who is Capitano della Nazionale Femminile Volley Sorde (Captain of the Italian Deaf Female Volleyball Team), has been named Cavaliere dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic).
Ilaria has been honoured for the ‘dedication and passion with which she uses sport as a tool to promote awareness and inclusion for people of all abilities’. During the Deaflympics event she posted a video of the Italian team ‘singing’ the national anthem in the sign language (see below).
Iacopo Melio, a wheelchair bound 26 year old from Pisa, has been named Cavaliere dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.
Iacopo has made a passionate contribution to the cause of overcoming the physical barriers that prohibit the disabled from having equal access, and challenging cultural stereotypes. With this objective in mind, he founded the association vorreiprendereiltreno (I’d like to catch the train). Here below he features in a music video by Lorenzo Baglioni which deals with the subject of equal access.
Marco Ranieri, 38, from Bari, has been named Cavaliere dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.
Marco Ranieri is the creator of a Food Sharing association named Avanzi popolo 2.0. His aim is to collect food that would be otherwise wasted (e.g. because it has reached its sell-by-date or has been untouched at an event due to excess quantity) and redistribute it to those who don’t have enough to eat.
Marco Omizzolo, a 43 year old social worker from Sabaudia near Latina, has been named Cavaliere dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.
Marco has been fighting caporalato, the criminal exploitation of illegal immigrants as agriculture labourers. In dossiers given to the police, he has described the caporalato system, and the poor living conditions and state of health of these illegal workers. He has been the subject of several death threats.
Amongst those who helped bringing criminals to justice are also two Italian residents from ethnic minority groups:
Moroccan citizen Mustapha El Aoudi, who has lived in Crotone for nearly 30 years, has been named Cavaliere dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.
On the 4th of December 2018, Mustapha intervened when a man began stabbing Dottoressa Nuccia Calindro with a screwdriver outside the Hospital where she worked in Crotone. The man accused Calindro of having killed his mother. Risking his own life, Mustapha El Aoudi fought off the assailant, saving the wounded Dottoressa.
Roxana Roman of Romanian origin has been named Cavaliere dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.
34 year old Roxana owns a bar in the Romanina zone of Rome which is dominated by the Casamonica and Di Silvio mafia clans. On Easter day 2018 one member of the Casamonica clan and two members of the Di Silvio clan devastated the now famous Roxy Bar, attacking her husband and a disabled female client who tried to defend him. Despite repeated threats from the Mafia, Roxana reported them to the authorities and eventually succeeded in having the criminals arrested.
You can read about all 33 of those honoured by the President HERE.
Grazie Presidente per il suo messaggio!