„It really gave me creeps!“

Tour through the epicentre

by Stefanie Huisgen,  2012/08/10

In May and June 2012, the Italian region of Emilia Romagna was shaken by heavy earthquakes. The quakes claimed 24 lives and 400 persons were injured; 14,000 persons lost their homes and were accommodated in gyms and tents. Numerous buildings were either destroyed by the earthquakes or severely damaged and now threaten to collapse.

San Venanzio is a town located within the epicentre. During the quake, several public buildings in the town with 5,000 inhabitants were damaged to a degree that they can no longer be entered safely. When visiting the affected region at the beginning of August 2012, humedica CEO Wolfgang Groß and Stefanie Huisgen (Public Relations Department) were able to assess the situation themselves.

Deep cracks show in the walls of the damaged buildings; the town hall, the church, the school, as well as the catholic kindergarten in San Venanzio strongly threaten to collapse. For the time being, the town’s mayor, Ms. Teresa Vergnana, and her employees, have to hold their meetings in containers set up for this purpose. After the summer holidays, lessons are temporarily to be held in tents; and an alternative solution is still being sought for the cold seasons.

Destroyed buildings, empty streets and an oppressive silence

When driving through some of the towns in the epicentre (Sant’ Agostino, Poggio Renatico, San Carlo, San Venanzio), the damage to the buildings partly was obvious. Some of the streets were blocked for safety reasons. Besides public buildings, also numerous factory buildings collapsed during the earthquake, which accounted for most of the fatalities. Up to this day, 8,000 affected persons live at emergency accommodations, which will, however, only be available until September. The question of where these persons are to be accommodated after that is still open.

Although more than two months have passed since the heavy earthquakes, anxiety among the people can still be felt. They seem to be paralysed by the constant fear of further quakes, which would increase their misery and cause more damage. Nothing remains of the town’s former cheerful and lively atmosphere.

The town seems to have lost its soul”, confirms also Michele Oliveri, who is a popular actor among others in the ARD TV series “Sturm der Liebe” (Storm of Love). The native Italian grew up in San Venanzio and knows what his relatives and friends feel like. Now, humedica is planning to support the reconstruction of a kindergarten in the actor’s home town. Michele Oliveri himself had already attended this kindergarten when he was little, as had several of his family members before him.

There is an interesting story about the foundation of the state certified kindergarten: in the past, the women of the village did not know where to safely leave their little girls and boys when they themselves were working in the fields. Therefore they prepared a soup with wine, in order to keep the little ones quiet and to do their field work without interruptions. Of course, this was not a measure that could be tolerated. And eventually, one of the women decided to found an institution, where the children would be supervised and cared for during the day - the kindergarten which is now threatening to collapse.

During his latest visit in San Venanzio, Michele Oliveri asked some of the girls and boys about what they had experienced during the earthquake. A little girl said: “It really gave me creeps!” Photo: Bea Schulz

The day when everything was shaking

Currently Italian schools are closed for the summer holidays, and both the children and their parents try to recover from the traumatic events of last spring. When the small humedica delegation and Michele Oliveri visited San Venanzio, the actor had the opportunity to talk about their experiences with several of the children who attend the kindergarten. One of the little boys was still so shocked that he would not speak about the event. His friends, on the other hand, described how they had experienced the earthquake and said that they had been afraid.

It really gave me creeps!”, told a little girl. “But then my ma picked me up in her arms. I will never forget this day.” Answering the question of what the earthquake had felt like, the little ones made the table shake. “Actually, the chairs would have to shake, too. Everything was shaking”, explained a little boy.

Since the heavy earthquake in spring, the Emilia Romagna region has become one of the regions in Italy subjected to the strongest earthquake risks. All the buildings that need to be rebuilt will be set up in an earthquake proof manner - an aspect that further aggravates the region’s already tense financial situation.

Even the catholic church does not dispose of sufficient financial means to rebuild their dilapidated churches. These costs have to be assumed by the government. Therefore, it seems all the more important to cover the costs for rebuilding the kindergarten privately.

For this purpose, humedica would like to ask its friends and sponsors for support. Quick action is necessary, in particular given the approaching winter. It is still unclear, where the children will be supervised after the summer holidays. Possibly some containers will have to be set up as a temporary arrangement - but in the long term the reconstruction of the kindergarten should be a priority.

      humedica e. V.
      Donation reference “Earthquake Relief Italy
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

      SWIFT-Code: BYLA DE M1 KFB
      IBAN: DE35734500000000004747

Please make a targeted donation for our reconstruction project and ensure that in future the little ones will be supervised in an earthquake-proof building. A building that will give them back their lost feeling of security and will help them to overcome their traumatic experiences. Thank you very much!

The kindergarten children in San Venanzio need your support! Please help us give our little fellow humans an earthquake-proof kindergarten - so that future quakes will no longer cause any damage. Thank you very much. Photo: Bea Schulz.

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