After a tough year of battling the rapid spread of COVID-19, and after 53 years, the longest gap between two European titles in history, Italy won its second European Championship title and created hope in the Italians’ hearts that suffered feelings of dread, tragedy, and loss during the past year.
More than one year ago, COVID-19 invaded humans’ life, disrupting every sense of normalcy and imposing new modes of interaction and communication that persists to the present day. This pandemic affected thousands of people’s lives, leaving many of them forcibly jobless, shutting down businesses, and creating a big hassle in the healthcare systems on a global scale. Indeed, Italy survived one of the first and strictest lockdowns before it was able to resume normal life less than three months ago. Italy would not have emerged out of this dark period without its people’s perseverance, discipline, and unity. Moreover, many local and global institutions, associations, and organizations helped Italy curb the spread of the virus. Rotaract, which played a vital role in supporting the healthcare system with equipment, resources, and machineries, is one of them.
Crowdfunding of ASReM (Molise Regional Health Agency)
In order to alleviate the situation, several crowdfunds were initiated in the Italian regions of Marche, Umbria, Abruzzo and Molise (one in each region), under the Rotaract District 2090, during the 2019-2020 Rotarian year which was promoted by the District Representative Emma Cori. At that time, Tullio Viola, the Zone Delegate in the Molise region and a member of the Club of Campobasso, coordinated the fundraising with the three regional Rotaract Clubs and their respective Rotary Clubs. The crowdfund, in favor of ASReM (Azienda Sanitaria Regionale Molise – Molise Regional Health Agency) aimed at donating medical equipment to support the population. More specifically, protective suits against the biological risk of contagion were donated and utilized by healthcare personnel. In Tullio Viola’s words: “This fundraising has positively affected the whole Molise region and it involved the club of Campobasso, Isernia and Termoli, showing a great unity of action at the regional level.”
Crowdfunding of Marche
Another example of crowdfunding that was initiated in District 2090 was in the Marche region with the help of the 16 regional Rotaract Club as Giuseppe Paolucci, the Zone Delegate and member of the Club of Ascoli Piceno, pointed out in our interview. This crowdfunding generated 20,000 Euros over a period of two months. The clubs assessed hospitals’ needs and found out that they were in shortages of hospital equipment, masks, etc. The clubs then decided to split the amount raised: two to three thousand euros for the Ospedali Riuniti di Ancona, composed of four hospitals, namely: Hospital Torrette, Hospital Umberto, Hospital Salesi, and Hospital Lancisi. The rest of the funds were donated to different hospitals through ASL (Azienda Sanitaria Locale – Local Health Agency) Marche, a network connected to other hospitals of the Marche region. For Ospedali Riuniti di Ancona, the money was delegated to the manager of the hospital; however, for the rest of the region, the clubs directly bought all the equipment themselves based on urgent needs of 12 different hospitals. Moreover, members from the clubs volunteered in hospitals, especially that some of them were in the medicine field.
Crowdfunding of Coronavirus Senigallia Hospital
I also had the pleasure to interview Luigi Verdini, the president of the Rotaract Club Senigallia in 2019-2020. On the 10th of March 2020, the Rotaract Club of Senigallia, in synergy with the Rotary Club of Senigallia and the City Administration, established the fundraising campaign called “Coronavirus Senigallia Hospital.” The initiative was set up in favor of medical doctors, nurses, and health personnel working in Senigallia to combat the spread of COVID-19. Through the online platform “GoFundMe” and the use of social networks, an amount of 53,000 euros was raised and entirely spent by the Club for the purchase of medical equipment and electro-medical instruments. Furthermore, the clubs also procured 40 thermometers, 10 sphygmomanometers, 30,000+ DPI (masks, headgears, over-shoes, gloves, surgical caps, etc.), 94 visors, one ambulance, sanitizers, 6 portable radios, and 5 notebooks. At the end of the state of emergency, the remaining funds were utilized for the painting of ex-COVID departments, which allowed for a quick reuse of hospital wards.
The Club’s success would not have been possible without the generosity and support it received from the Italian community and the media (online press, radio, etc.) that kept tabs on the daily progress of the fundraising. This communal and media attention attracted a significant number of donors, namely, individuals, entrepreneurs, student groups, sports associations and foundations amongst others. The whole fundraising process was initiated and conducted remotely by relying on online platforms for organizational meetings. What distinguishes this project is that it is a product of multiple collaboration among Rotaract, Rotary, and the Municipal Administration, which encouraged the spread of Rotaract values across the city and the region.
Crowdfunding of Umbria
Furthermore, Michael Bernardini, the Zone Delegate of the Umbria region, supervised the local crowdfunding project that aimed at raising funds to be allocated to two health districts present in the region, namely USL Umbria 1 and USL Umbria 2 (Unità Sanitaria Locale – Local Health Unit). The latter had specifically asked for money in order to deal with the COVID-19 emergencies and informed them that they would be the ones responsible for procuring the necessary equipment to deal with the emergency. All the Rotaract Clubs of the Umbria Region served as a helping hand and were able to collect enough money to accordingly support the two health districts.
The Abruzzo Project
Finally, in addition to the four previous relief efforts/crowdfunds that were initiated, a project in the Abruzzo region was launched as well, which was managed by Lorenza Spinosa, the Zone Delegate of Abruzzo. The Rotaractors of Abruzzo, with the money they raised, were able to purchase 440 pulse oximeters and 48 temperate meters which were used by the (Unità di Coordinamento dell’Assistenza Territoriale – Territorial Care Coordination Unit) that manages the homecare of COVID-19 positive patients. In situations as such, even a small gesture can make a difference and they were happy to have had the chance to contribute to that difference in fighting against the COVID-19.
These five-major fundraisings and projects, run by the Rotaract Clubs in District 2090 demonstrate cooperation, unity, and dedication for a common purpose: to fight the pandemic and allay the stake at hand. They indicate that coming together to overcome a crisis through providing humanitarian aid on the ground outgrows feelings of hopelessness and detachment that the pandemic instilled in us. This inclusiveness stems from the fact that we, as Rotaractors around the world, put our diversity aside to unite together to achieve a mission. It also shows that we are a strong, inclusive community that strives to deploy effective change on the ground.
Italy was able to combat the pandemic through its people’s sense of solidarity and through the immense global help it received. Not to mention the music that also played a crucial role in unifying people, serving as a beam light amid darkness. Italians were witnessed singing, dancing, and playing their instruments from their own balcony, sharing the drive to keep moving forward and stay resilient. Moreover, famous Italian opera tenor Andrea Bocelli hosted an online concert entitled “Music For Hope” at Milano’s empty Duomo cathedral and performed spiritual songs, which brought together millions of people around the world. This video concert included a fundraising campaign by a foundation named after Bocelli to aid hospitals procure different kinds of equipment.
Italy endured one of the most devastating stages of the world’s fight against the virus; yet because of its resistance, it was able to re-instill a sense of hope in the hearts of its people and the world.
Special thanks to Alia Triki (Med Times Editor in Chief), Andrea Serrani (Med Times Deputy Editor in Chief), Tullio Viola (Zone Delegate of the Molise Region in 2019-20), Giuseppe Paolucci (Zone Delegate of the Marche Region in 2019-20 ), Luigi Verdini (President of the Rotaract Club Senigallia in 2019-20), Michael Bernardini (Zone Delegate of the Umbria Region in 2019-20), and Lorenza Spinosa (Zone Delegate of the Abruzzo Region in 2019-20) for your time in providing me with the necessary content to make this article happen.
Med Times Journalist
(Rotaract Club De Beyrouth, Dist. 2452)