Covid-19, Cesvi: two years fighting against the emergency in Bergamo and in the world

The shortage of masks and medical devices, social isolation, the fear of first leaving home and then losing their jobs. Two years after the beginning of the Covid-19 emergency and on the occasion of the dramatic recurrence of the National Day in Memory of the Victims of the Coronavirus Epidemic (18th of March), Cesvi recalls the pain faced by Bergamo – a city that, after having been severely affected on a health and social level, has also suffered a severe economic crisis – and draws attention to the criticalities, still very strong, present in the South of the world, where, in addition to continuing the interventions already activated at the beginning of the pandemic, we have just put in place 4 new projects: Kenya, Somalia, Haiti and Myanmar.

“Two years have passed since the beginning of the emergency that shocked the world and hit our country and the territory of Bergamo hard.” – declares Gloria Zavatta, president of Cesvi Foundation – “During this period, in addition to continuing to support the countries of the South of the world in which we have been present for years, we have also taken the field in Italy and in the city where we were born, Bergamo, applying in our territory the skills gained in 35 years of intervention in the management of crises and emergencies and implementing interventions in the health, social and economic fields”.

Interventions in Italy

Since the first months of the pandemic, Cesvi has supported the Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo and the Alpini Field Hospital, the Health Protection Agency of the Province of Bergamo and the community, donating about 2.5 million pieces of personal protective equipment, 500 certified fabric masks with a transparent screen for lip reading, a cardio aid, a mobile CT scan, over 500 lung ventilators, 37 beds for sub-intensive care and 3 ultrasound scanners. In the toughest months of the lockdown, we have been close to the elderly of Bergamo and Milan, activating two projects aimed at providing interventions related to basic needs (delivery of groceries, distribution of medicines at home, accompaniment for visits), psychological support and technological help to prevent situations of marginalization and isolation. Over 3,400 over-65s were helped in Bergamo and Milan, thanks to more than 22,500 services provided in the two cities.

In order to support the economic restart of activities in difficulty and restore hope to the urban productive fabric, Cesvi then launched, in collaboration with the Municipality of Bergamo and Intesa Sanpaolo, the Rinascimento Program, through which more than 4,000 micro-businesses in the area were supported thanks to the allocation of more than 10 million euros in non-repayable grants, to cover the expenses that small commercial and artisan enterprises had to incur during the lockdown, part of them in the redesign of their activities to adapt to the new post-Covid-19 context. An example of partnership between public and private that “is redesigning the classic model of aid adopted in these situations. A unique opportunity to relaunch the economy of the cities,” comments the President.

Cesvi, in this difficult year, has also been at the side, on a national level, of one of the professional categories most affected by this emergency: music and entertainment workers. With the Scena Unita initiative, in collaboration with Music Innovation Hub, La Musica Che Gira and thanks to the contribution of more than 150 artists, more than 2,000 workers in the world of music and entertainment have been helped thanks to the three calls for proposals. With the Insieme Per La Musica initiative, together with Trio Medusa and Elio e Le Storie Tese, 46 musical groups were supported.

Interventions in the world

At the same time as its interventions in Italy, Cesvi has also kept a close eye on the countries of the South of the world. At the beginning of the pandemic and in the following months, we activated projects to fight the spread of the virus in Palestine, Pakistan, Brazil, Peru and Lebanon, contexts where the health emergency has worsened living conditions that were already severely compromised by hunger, poverty and widespread vulnerability. Cesvi, in particular, distributed personal protective equipment for front-line rescuers, food aid, hygiene and personal care kits and small economic support for families, as well as promoting communication and awareness campaigns on the risks of Covid-19 and the importance of hygiene and prevention. Moreover, in Brazil and Lebanon, we have converted the activities dedicated to children and adapted them to the new context: in Brazil, about 200 families have been helped so far thanks to the distribution of food items; in Lebanon, Cesvi has supported 1,500 refugee children from the Beirut and Mount Lebanon region from vulnerable families at risk of dropping out of school who are involved in the Resilient Education project.

To face the effects of the pandemic, which is still very pressing in the countries of the South of the world, Cesvi has also just activated four new projects in Kenya, Somalia, Myanmar and Haiti, responding to the specific needs of each country. In Kenya and Somalia, we have promoted interventions to stem the spread of the virus, such as hand-washing stations, awareness campaigns and the distribution of protective equipment, as well as an economic support program designed to mitigate the economic consequences of the pandemic. In Haiti, the project implemented by Cesvi will promote the relaunching of the local economy by supporting the activities of those families and vulnerable communities that have suffered socio-economic damage from Covid-19, aggravating pre-existing fragility, inequality and injustice. In Myanmar, where the pandemic has caused a collapse in international tourist arrivals worsening the socio-economic crisis that is affecting the country, we have been active to support the future of young people, providing them with tools and skills needed to start new micro-enterprises in the agriculture sector.

In parallel with the projects to combat the Covid-19 emergency, Cesvi immediately took action to help the population affected by the war in Ukraine. “The same model of intervention based on speed of action that allowed us to deal rapidly with the pandemic in Italy and around the world is now also guiding us for the emergency in Ukraine where we are bringing concrete aid to the civilian population,” concludes Piersilvio Fagiano, General Manager of the Foundation. Cesvi is in fact working non-stop these days to bring support to the population hard hit by the war in Ukraine with a particular attention to people with special needs, such as children, women and the elderly.

© Photo credits: Giovanni Diffidenti