From The Guardian:
Pope Francis has opened a free launderette in Rome in the latest of a series of initiatives aimed at poor people that has included help with housing, showers, haircuts, meals and medical care.
Six washing machines and dryers were donated to the facility in the city centre. Detergent, fabric softener and a number of irons have also been provided.
The Lavanderia di Papa Francesco (Pope Francis Laundry) intended to “restore dignity to many people who are our brothers and sisters”, the Vatican said. It is designed to serve “the poorest people, particularly the homeless, who will be able to wash, dry and iron their clothes and blankets”.
"This is the real church," Palermo's brand new archbishop Corrado Lorefice said to those gathered to celebrate Christmas Eve at Fra Biagio Conte's Mission of Hope and Charity. Biagio, a lay brother who takes care of a thousand homeless people in three inner city homes for them in Palermo, welcomed the new archbishop to his shelter.
A barber in Palermo leaves work and goes to cut the hair of homeless men and women at a shelter near Palermo's port. I recognize some of the homeless men in this short video from La Repubblica. They are guests of the 40-bed dormitory run by La Danza delle Ombre (The Shadow Dance) a non-profit organization founded by Dr. Marina Scardavi, Palermo's street doctor to the homeless. From their Facebook page.
Luigi, a homeless man who sleeps at a shelter and spends much of his days at the walk- in clinic, Danza delle Ombre (Shadowdance) run by Doctor Marina Scardavi, near Piazza Politeama. He asked me not to film his face. A woman who also comes daily to the clinic sings along with him until she forgets the words.
Silver lining of a cloud behind the olive branches
Fra Biagio Conte's community for the homeless has expanded into the countryside. The homeless shelter inherited a farm near the sea, at Scopello in Sicily, and the homeless have rebuilt it, and cleaned up the olive groves, made them productive again, and make all the shelter's olive oil there.
I went out on the Danza delle Ombre meals- on-wheels run for the homeless with Chiara and Irene Campagna this evening, for the last time.
You see the strangest things. Drunken Europunks sleeping on the cold hard sidewalk where they urinate, surrounded by a pack of large mongrel dogs, one of which just had seven puppies. Across the street was this forlorn, lonely roosting hen on a leash, tied to a garbage can, waiting for her homeless master to get back from whatever it was he was doing. Different kind of pet.
When we ran out of food to deliver, the sisters, who volunteer to deliver food every week, asked me what food I liked. Pizza, crostini, cannolicchi. Then they talked about their favorite arancine, which are fried rice balls containing, traditionally, either butter (more…)
Fra Biagio Conte, a layman, a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis, houses and feeds more than a thousand people in his four urban shelters and communities in Palermo. His guests are Sicilians, Italians, Europeans, Asians, and Africans, men, women and children. Recently his prayers have been answered. He always wanted to (more…)
Dr. Marina Scardavi founded a non-profit called Shadow Dance to aid the homeless in body and soul. She got to know Palermo's homeless people through her homeless friend, Mohammed, an Iranian immigrant who earned a degree in architecture at the University of Palermo, but who prefers to be a vagabond who cares for other street people. (more…)
OUR HOUSING PLAN: OCCUPY EVERYTHING!
This was a manifesto I found plastered to the front of the train station this morning, a place where the homeless, at least many of them, the single men, gather to accept food donations at night and sleep wrapped in blankets under the portico where they can stay out (more…)
Antonella, her friend Cetty, and Cetty's newborn daughter, Nicole, in the Convento delle Vergini which they occupied.
From our kitchen balcony I can see the lights are on in the cloistered convent across Piazza Venezia. Since December 2013, the convent, empty for two years after the last three aged nuns living there were transfered, has been occupied by palermitan homeless families. I visited them two days ago. Ten families, 35 people, of whom 22 are children. (more…)
A corner of the 100-seat dining room of the Accoglienza Femminile of Fra Biagio Conte's Missione Pace e Speranza
Last week I visited the Women's Home, one of three centers comprising Brother Biagio Conte's Mission of Peace and Hope. It houses roughly a hundred homeless women, palermitans and immigrants, single women, women with young children and women with infants. It is housed inside the former convent of Saint Catherine of Sienna in Via (more…)
I spent yesterday afternoon with Mohammed, a homeless Iranian architect, a vagabond by nature, a kind man who helps all the other homeless people less fortunate than he. He lives with three or four dogs, and visiting pigeons, cats, seagulls, lizards and human friends, in a camper by the sea, at the Foro Italico, (more…)