We love our neighbor, anywhere in the world, we are an international NGO, and even if the emergency here in the US can erupt at any moment, this does not prevent us from working for Italy and giving assistance in these days as well dramatic to the Italian people “.
These are the words that Dr. Gaetano Sottile, President of Italy for Christ, remembers with a touch of emotion. But let’s proceed in order.
Q. Dr. Sottile yesterday in the press conference the Head of Civil Protection Borelli, announced that the NGO Samaritan’s Purse will land in Italy to set up a mobile hospital camp in Cremona capable of equipping 60 beds and 6 intensive care therapies, with the addition of medical personnel . Tell us a little: how did all this come about?
A. It seems like an eternity has passed, but it all happened in just over a week. I’ve been on the phone a long time, from home. Wednesday I received a call from an old friend of mine, Hans Mannegren, General Director for Europe of Samaritan’s Purse. He asks me many questions about what was happening in Italy last week. I exposed everything with great clarity and an abundance of data. Then Hans shared the desire is shared, but we will say, the “vision”, to do something for Italy …
Q. At what point what happened?
A. Taking up this challenge, I knew that the only possible way to implement this plan was to do it in teamwork. So I called my dear and close friend, Senator Lucio Malan, who knows the potential of the American evangelical reality well, and in the past has already had contacts for important projects with this organization. For this reason, it was easy to make him understand the extent of this great solidarity work. It was he who managed the institutional contacts with the Minister of Health Roberto Speranza, the Governor of the Lombardy Region and the Civil Protection.
Q. So everything developed quickly and easily?
A. No, not quite like that. First of all, I wish everyone to know that the Samaritan Purse is one of the most important NGOs in the world, founded by the well-known American preacher Billy Graham and currently chaired by his son, Franklin Graham. It was the WHO – World Health Organization – that extended a special invitation to this American NGO for Italy, complete with an official document. In addition to what was previously described, laboratory and biomedical technicians, respiratory therapists, pharmacologists, in short, a team of specialists able to manage this emergency in Italy, also because they are strong in the experience accumulated in many international rescue missions, several of which in relation to epidemics, such as cholera in Haiti, Ebola in Africa and diphtheria in Bangladesh.
What I want to emphasize is that there has been a great deal of cooperation, bipartisan and transversal, testifying that the country and the institutions are currently working for our good and our safety. Very important, the Minister of Health Roberto Speranza proposed, as I wished, thanks to the extraordinary and timely work of Senator Malan, that in the Council of Ministers, included in the latest decree, the authorization to operate on the Italian territory of medical personnel coming from abroad for the emergency.
Q. A nice victory ..
A. I would go further: a miracle! At least for us believers. In three days something that seemed impossible was materialized. Italy is experiencing its most dramatic moment in recent decades, and we are reacting with great force. This supportive and loving help from our American brothers and sisters is truly a blessing, because it focuses on one of the cities in greatest crisis and suffering, such as Cremona
Q. What will happen in the next few days?
A. I would speak of hours, more than days. The plane has already landed in Milan. Yesterday in a press conference the head of the Civil Protection officially communicated this news. By now we are already operational. I would like to thank the whole team of Americans who have already landed in Italy, and for what they will do. Obviously I like to thank also the Italian institutions for having unlocked this situation in record time.
Senator Malan remains the institutional reference at this stage. But also my most sincere gratitude also goes to my friend Hans and BGEA vice-president Steve Rhoads, who has done exceptional mediation work, with his wisdom and authority.
These are the hours in which personalism can destroy the good things achieved so far. There is a need for great balance and wisdom. And a true and authentic teamwork effort.That’s why through the magazine that you direct, dear Alessandro, we will communicate what will happen in the next few hours. And Steve Rhoads will take the floor in the next few hours. As they say in the USA, #staytuned …Thank you very much, dear Dr. Sottile-