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Africa Milele office search by police in Italy

The onlus of Silvia Romano in investigation files

16-05-2020 by Freddie del Curatolo

After the days of surprise, different reactions, indignation, hatred and compassion, accusations and few excuses, there are those who move the viewfinder from Silvia Romano guilty of unconscious genuineness in Africa to the Onlus Africa Milele which has accepted her requests, proposing her to stay in a village in the hinterland of Malindi without any kind of coverage: health, legal, work.
The Onlus for its modus operandi naive (let's say so) has earned in the last year and a half a bad reputation and yesterday was confirmed the news that the Public Prosecutor's Office of Rome in the investigation on the kidnapping of their referent in Chakama had the ROS search the registered office and questioned the founder Lilian Sora.
Probably following some statements by Silvia herself and her parents, the name of the Fano organization appeared in the branch of the investigation concerning the girl's stay at the Africa Milele volunteer home in the period prior to her kidnapping.
What is officially reported is that the non-profit organization in the Marche region is not recognized by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation nor is it part of COIKE, the umbrella organization of Italian organizations that brings together and assists NGOs and non-profit organizations with the external support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
From this it is clear, and it would be the case not to see it written anywhere else, that Silvia Romano is not a collaborator. But I also think it is wrong to say that she has not done any voluntary work.
It is right, therefore, to investigate the security conditions, the more or less legitimate work of Africa Milele and possibly open a separate file if other anomalies are found, for example, on donations, funding, the way money is transmitted, the relationship between donations received and funds actually used in the Kenyan project and to wait for the results of such research, not least because it will be difficult to receive certain information and irreproachable judgments from Kenya.
In order to better understand this statement (as well as to give a lot of other information and write news about Kenya) it is necessary to get into the reality of the Italian presence on the Kenyan coast and go back at least thirty years, when with the Italian community and the arrival of mass tourism, many countrymen could not turn their eyes to the misery, even if dignified compared to other African realities, of the suburbs of Malindi and Watamu.
Thus orphanages were born, many of which only minimally took in real orphans, were in practice reception centers where needy families preferred to leave their children in surplus.
In such facilities they had a safe meal, hygiene and gradually free education.
From there to the end of the last century schools, clinics and dispensaries, homes for single mothers, HIV-positive and so on were added.
Italians played an important role in this.
In 1992 I organized a little show for the children of the first orphanage of the Italian community of Malindi, "The House of the rising sun", founded by the Marini family and other countrymen.
Many residents contributed to the expansion of that centre and two years later in the board of directors there were the names of the Honorary Consul of the time, Roberto Macrì and other local entrepreneurs, not only Italian.
The Kenyan institutions clearly made golden bridges to those who built structures and donated them to the Government or the Diocese. For those who instead set up totally private initiatives there was the shortcut of the mancette, in a country that had always been prone to corruption.
In those years the tourists who came to Kenya were well supplied and generous, they often left unexpected donations. Those who have been frequenting the Kenyan coast since then, those who have lived and live there or have been spending months of holiday there for years, have in all probability their project and their Onlus of reference and, if this is not the case, they almost certainly help or have helped an employee of the house, of their own business or in any case a Kenyan acquaintance.
Many graduates and graduates of Kilifi County have studied and today have a job thanks to the Italians, many families have a decent house with masonry walls and concrete floors with the help of Italians.
On the tourist front, for the sake of truth, many resources, the result of obvious generosity but as much superficiality and naivety, have been wasted, entrusting money to local people of dubious morality or put in the hands of as many fragile and unprepared Kenyans who have no knowledge of how to work. Any Italian organization that arrived in Kenya would be lying if it said it never missed a shot, never ran into a traffic accident and saw some money end up in the wrong pockets or projects that were prematurely completed or revised and corrected with additional disbursements.
In the face of many praiseworthy initiatives, in the last few years the Onlus in the territory have increased tenfold and, with the advent of the social networks, the logic of always giving evidence to their good actions has made converge on the Kenyan tourist resorts real fortunes.
Many of these organizations are recognized both in Italy and in Kenya, others as mentioned above are registered with the Coordination of Italian Organizations in Kenya, but many others operate here simply through a Kenyan referent, not even a Trust or even better a CBO (Community Based Organization), which is an organization recognized with a relevance to the territory in which it operates. Many, even too many isolated and poorly coordinated initiatives. Almost all driven by a big heart, but as always someone who marches on it.
Apart from the registered Onlus of which we have said, 99% of the volunteers who have stayed in structures managed by organizations that have projects in these areas, have never had a work permit and, even if they have different skills, they were almost never professionals and cooperating on salary. Tourists with a load of humanity and maybe a smattering of Africa, sometimes not even that.
In so many years, we have been educating fleets of them. We personally know young women who have started families in Kenya, starting from volunteer situations, and have children and a peaceful life. Others, after their first experiences, have decided to deepen their knowledge and have created a professionalism, others have not yet understood us much and have changed their path.
For this reason, our goal, in the field of social information, is also to explain to the associations how to manage resources and relate with Kenyan society.
Dozens and dozens have asked us for advice, as many would have liked only visibility and many we have denied the showcase of the portal because we did not consider them in line with our creed.
We ourselves have carried out solidarity initiatives, always relying on organizations recognized by local institutions and for some time now, especially Kenyan associations.
The hope is that this investigation can shed light on who really does things right, as well as doing good, as the President of Karibuni Onlus Gianfranco Ranieri preaches.
Karibuni is the only Italian NGO operating in the hinterland of Malindi, a stone's throw from Chakama, and has announced that it will no longer accept volunteers on its farms, even though it has long since activated above-average security measures.
If after the dramas, the joy, the polemics, the behind-the-scenes and the mysteries of this story, a more managerial and less touristic management was achieved, without taking anything away from humanity and the transport of feelings, we could say that even from the manure of the last year and a half and from certain habits of "Italian-style" solidarity in Malindi and Kenya, a flower was born.    

TAGS: africa mileleonlus kenyasolidarietà malindisilvia romano

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