This week we brought an Italian man back to the Project Rome House. His leg was red, swollen and weeping with infection. He could only wear slip on plastic beach shoes. Even in the ice and freezing weather his feet were almost bare. His leg was causing him huge pain, the skin was broken and sore. Pain and was etched on his face when he came to eat with us beneath the motorway bridges at Tiburtina. He was cold, shivering. He was on the limit of desperation. We asked him if he would like just one night sleeping in a bed, take a shower, have the chance to sit and relax for a few hours in the garden. He hesitated, as if overwhelmed with the question. So we made his mind up for him.
`Lorenzo’ has been at the Project Rome House for a week now. In that time, we’ve taken him to a dermatologist who said that without treatment he was at risk of losing his leg from the knee down. Project Rome has bought him the required medication, made sure he elevates the leg, uses a foot spa to improve circulation and remove the street grime from his feet. He is using the medication, the sores have improved, within 24 hours his face was relaxed and his eyes bright. He slept most of the first night and day.
For a week he has eaten every day and night with the other men in the Project Rome House. He has showered, washed and changed his clothes and received new ones from our store of donations. He has used the internet, sat in the daytime sunshine in the garden, been among other male company and instead of walking the streets from dawn until night, he has spent his days listening to the radio and relaxing.
We usually have four men at the Project Rome House at any one time, including 83 year old Orlando. It is our home, and beneath it, there is room to cook, and for a handful of people to sleep. This week at times we had six men sheltering from the freezing rain and sub zero temperatures. Last night another man slept here, just to get a shower, a night’s sleep and change his clothes. Today two more came today change their clothes, use the washing machine, eat a meal, relax and get energy to continue a life sleeping without shelter. It is the least we can do for people at the edge of desperation.
It is inhumane to have to turn men back out onto the street but we have no official funding or support. We will soon have to ask `Lorenzo’ to leave, just as soon as the danger has passed. We are giving a tiny chance to people in the hope they will find their way in life again, we want to do so much more.
Please help us, please share your kindness and compassion with anyone who needs it. Human compassion makes us far richer than any government, but who knows, maybe even they will one day start to use our money properly, to catch those who fall beneath the invisible line.