On March 6th, Italy celebrated the first National Day of the Righteous of Humanity “to honour the men and women who have helped the victims of persecutions and defended human rights wherever they were trampled on”. This result was achieved thanks to Gariwo’s commitment to safeguarding the Righteous of Humanity and remembering those who daily defend the most vulnerable and neglected people. Last year, I had the honour of participating in the events organised in Neve Shalom for the International Day of the Rescuer in Israel, to celebrate all men and women who work hard to protect human dignity and rights without surrendering to brutality and injustice. On that day, I had the chance to talk about MOAS’ inception and mission and to highlight that it all started from my family and our idea to react to the loss of lives at sea, in a world where indifference is a major risk.

I am happy to see that the Italian Parliament officially acknowledged Gariwo’s relentless commitment to divulging the stories of the Righteous people of our time. I hope that this will be the beginning of a path based on dialogue, solidarity and commitment, in order to avoid both indifference and the culture of hatred  by Gabriele Nissim. In fact, Gabriele warns against an upsurge of hatred involving everything and criminalising each act of humanity and solidarity.

But I wonder if this is a real upsurge of hatred or if hatred had never completely disappeared from our hearts. I wonder if we have taken for granted the legacy of WWII and its achievements, and underestimated all the hidden forms of hatred rooted in our communities. I also wonder if we have really done everything we could to prevent the marginalisation, exclusion and racism which are now pervading our world.

Above all, I ask myself what we can do to build a welcoming world, to feel our personal and undeniable responsibility for our present and future society. Throughout 4 years of MOAS’ missions, I learned that everybody can make the difference and everybody can promote good practices to be replicated at all levels. MOAS is an NGO created to mitigate the suffering of the world’s most vulnerable migrants. We have faced many challenges and adjusted to new operational needs, but we have always followed our founding principles with the ultimate goal of building a shared society where nobody is excluded.

In light of our mutual friendship and respect, I hope the entire Gariwo family can keep on cultivating the Garden of the Righteous of our time, so that its fruits may ripen very soon and reverse the current, dangerous trends of racism, intolerance and xenophobia. I do hope that we will never get used to evil, in all its forms, and I wish their event dedicated to the Righteous of Hospitality may help pull down the geographic, emotional and mental barriers which keep us distant from our brothers and sisters in search of a better future.