We’re not a homeless charity. We’re not even a charity. Project Rome is an idea, a concept. Our aim, with your help, is to bring kindness and compassion, especially the most disadvantaged in society. It may be holding the hand of a Syrian refugee, listening to his story and occupying his kids, or embracing a man on the streets of Rome who has lost everything and for whom life is a daily struggle. Or it could simply be listening to a friend or colleague, giving people time, comfort, kindness and compassion.
Last night at Tiburtina Tuesday, while we were writing the list of things to bring next week (A T-shirt and size 52 jeans for Lorenzo, a sleeping bag for Paolo, etc.) a homeless drunk guy was hovering, uncertainly. He was a bit grubby, not the kind of guy you’d want to take home. His friend requested a blanket and some socks and encouraged the first guy to ask for something, he explained our list system, that we’ll be back next week with the items.
We wrote down what he needed, then we embraced the drunk guy, kissed him on both cheeks. His face lit up. He smiled, we hugged again and his mood lifted visibly. In a few seconds, he’d gone from looking desolate, staring at the ground, swaying unsteadily, to looking alive, eyes bright, smiling broadly.
He walked a few steps, then came back with a cheeky grin, asked for an additional item… and embraced us again. He finally walked away, saying “I’m the biggest stronzo in Rome, I don’t deserve this”, and laughing as he went. It was a real Project Rome moment, for some minutes, the guy felt comfort and human warmth.
Only in this way can people re-discover their value, feel good about themselves and eventually get back on their feet, even if it happens man by man. Food will feed the body, kindness and compassion feeds the soul, gives the man purpose. If society could embrace those in need every day, help them to feel cared for, comforted and loved, what a different place we would live in.
Whether refugee, homeless man, a friend, a stranger… It doesn’t matter where you do it, how you do it or when you do it, as long as we do it. And just do it.