Over one month ago a massive earthquake struck the Region of Abruzzo, Italy. Though press on the disaster has slowed to a halt, the problems of the residents of this area remain varied and daily. Of the 80,000 refugee inhabitants, 50,000 are living in tent communities, and 30,000 are living in hotels. No one is going about life as usual: commercial activity has all but stopped, local groceries and cafés are closed or destroyed, and tourism - which is fundamental to the local economy - is nonexistent, even in the areas of the region with no damages from the earthquake. Without a stimulus in the local community, the people will continue to exist as refugees with lives that hardly resemble their former realities.
Slow Food has taken immediate action and - together with local partners - has promoted new initiatives in order to give new life to the local economy, and to reinforce the identity of the community.
To date, two important initiatives have been implemented:
Thanks to the commitment of Silvia De Paulis, Governor of Slow Food Italy, this proposal made some days after the earthquake has taken shape.
With the support of many organizations, we are now setting up community gardens in ten refugee camps. The community organizers and the coordinators of the Slow Food School Gardens project are working together to give assistance to the affected people involved in the gardens. With summer approaching, children have the opportunity to play while learning at the same time, harvesting the fruits of the gardens that they have grown. In addition to being an educational endeavor, the initiative directly impacts local food security for the people who have been displaced by the earthquake.
Certain allocated funds from the contributions will be used to buy a new wooden building in the city of L’Aquila. This building will host all local food producers who meet the requirements of the Slow Food Earth Market, meaning that the food they produce is good, clean and fair. The goal is to create a permanent farmers' market for all the producers who have lost their historical market location to the earthquake in Piazza Duomo in L’Aquila. Now they will have a new place to sell their products and to re-establish their connections with local consumers. This strengthens the normal daily routines of the people and the economy of the community, assists the farmers in making a living, and gives locals access to greater food security.
Our heartfelt thanks to all who have contributed to help the people of Abruzzo meet their basic needs and jumpstart life after the disaster. Your assistance gives hope to residents that life will continue as it once did, and that economic stability and food security will return without loss of traditional culture or livelihoods.
It has been two weeks since the massive earthquake struck the Region of Abruzzo, and I would like to thank all the people who have expressed their solidarity from all over the world to those affected by this dramatic event. A heartfelt thank to all those who have joined the efforts of Slow Food Italy and of Slow Food International by giving their contribution to the campaign.
To date, an evaluation is under way to assess the damages caused by the earthquake, as well as the impact it had on our heritage, both from a cultural and farming perspective. This evaluation also takes into account the damages on the agro-forestry resources that are part of the history of the people living in the province of L'Aquila.
As always, you will be informed on how the funds raised will be allocated, who the beneficiaries will be, which activities and projects will be supported: this will be done with transparency being our first priority.
Thank you once again for your sensitivity and empathy towards the people living in Abruzzo.
Raffaele Cavallo, Regional Governor, Slow Food Abruzzo.
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