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“You Italians save people. Thank you”


“We would like to have done more, but we only succeeded in saving two of them.” T. takes a memo book and writes for me the names of the two children: R., four years old, and A, seven. He knew their family very well.

It is 10 o’clock in the morning, and the sun has already risen. It is hot at the port of Augusta, Sicily, but by chance, the wind is blowing from the sea, and helps us not to suffocate. I saw T. alighting, the previous day, from the Clipper Hebe with a girl sleeping in his arms, and I thought this might have been his daughter.

He tells me that he was not able to close his eyes all night long. “It was terrible, as if the shipwreck would never end. I feel like I am still on the boat, and am afraid that from one moment to the next, the ground beneath my feet will open and I might fall through.”

He describes the hundreds of people who fell into the water. The first girl that he saved, R., had left with her father, mother, sister and brother, all who died during the shipwreck. He asks me to alert the doctor that the child has respiratory problems. A. also left with her entire family, two younger sisters and a little brother, mother and father, but only A. remained after the wreck. He asks me to take care of them. I reassure him, telling him that both will have someone who will take custody of them. “Thank you,” he says, “you Italians save people. You are a great people. Thank you.”

– Fabrizio, EMERGENCY psychologist in Sicily