Greetings! My name is Carlos Cannizzo and I am a member of the VMY in Catania (Sicily). A few days ago I was asked to write a witness story about a service experience that has influenced my life, one that has helped me understand the beauty of doing something for others. I have decided to share with you an event that was especially joyful. I am referring here about the planning of a celebration that was held in Rom de Catania. I have decided on this event because the people in this area are viewed as the lowest of the low, the least of all. They are people who have no influence or voice, they are feared and despised, they are often referred to as thieves. As a result of the concern of our advisor who is especially sensitive to needs of these persons, we decided to organizer a celebration for the children and the adults of that area.
We were mindful of many details: what games we could play, what we can bring with us and what could be provided to the people of that area (this was very delicate since we did not want to be seen as some “Santa Claus” who always brings gifts). We thought of making some gifts ourselves that could then be presented to the families. This idea was accepted by the group and we immediately went to work. This involved painting and framing our paintings (and since it was also Easter, we brought with us chocolate eggs and other sweets that could be shared and eaten together).
The long awaited day arrived with a very cloudy sky and some light rain. We feared that the celebration might have to be postponed since when it rains that area becomes inaccessible because of flooding. When we arrived however, the sun appeared and we were presented with a beautiful day. There were songs and dances and games and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. After about an hour we began to distribute the chocolate eggs.
Everyone, including the adults, ate and drank and enjoyed themselves. It was amazing that with so little we could all be so extremely satisfied. I was deeply touched as I watched shoeless children jump and shout for joy as they ate some cake. Those “little ones” who are accustomed to beg for everything, who have to become adults long before they reach the age of adulthood were able to be children for just a little while. It was wonderful to be a part of this and to know that the gift of a smile was received and a smile was given in return. These children gifted us with countless smiles, with hugs, with love. When we distributed some gifts, it was obvious that the children were most grateful. Before departing we took pictures of the whole group.
We were in an area completely separated from the rest of the city, we were with people who are viewed as “strange” … people with a different culture and a distinct language. We realized that in order to do good we did not have to travel too far. Two hours later we found ourselves happy and content as we headed home, our hearts had been filled with love. As we departed the sun disappeared and it became cloudy and started to rain. It seemed that we were being told: I am grateful for all that you have done. I can only say that I am most grateful for having been gifted with this opportunity to serve.