Ten million people treated for free in 18 countries around the world: this is a summary, in short, of the 25 years of Emergency's activities. The humanitarian association, founded in 1994 in Milan by the surgeon Gino Strada, on Wednesday celebrates its birthday at Casa Emergency, with an exhibition open to the public.
Doctor Strada, what led to creating the show?
I met Giulio Piscitelli in Afghanistan. His images show the face of war.
Casa Emergency was inaugurated in 2017, in front of the Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio ...
It was many years that Emergency was looking for a home, an operational headquarter. We are very happy with this space, a former renovated school, but we can also work on the initiatives we do: films, debates, meetings, conferences. It also seems to me a good sign for the city. Emergency was born here in Milan: I and other friends had work experiences in areas of wars and we had known realities where doctors are not there. There are only the wounded and people have no chance of treatment. The idea was to do something to help the victims of the war. Slowly our activity has expanded not only to the wounded in the narrow sense, but also to those who suffer from the absence of medical treatment due to war. The war, in fact, destroys any healthcare facility.
Did you expect it to grow so much?
No, we didn't think that Emergency would became this big of a reality as it is today, but it happened, and it was a beautiful thing.
What do you imagine for the future of Emergency?
Let it continue to do the extraordinary thing it did in the past 25 years: a great practice of medicine, but also a practice of peace. We must continue, even if it is increasingly difficult: for the international context, for the attitudes of governments, for the war that started in Italy against the NGOs some years ago. One thing that is absolutely Italian: there is nothing comparable in any other country than the governments' attack on humanitarian organizations. We are seeing horrible things: our government sends people to die in various ways, because it refuses to save them, and because it continues to sell arms to countries at war.
You were born in Sesto San Giovanni and live in Milan: do you like this city?
Unlike forty years ago, today I love Milan a lot. I like the city, I like the spirit with which it is guided. I especially like the attitude of openness towards others that Milan has: this is an important fact for me.
The best memories of the past 25 years of Emergency?
Whenever we manage to build a hospital, to open a clinic, to build a health facility somewhere that helps those who have no alternative. We also have many projects: I hope that by the end of this year we can complete the construction of a center of excellence in pediatric surgery, designed by Renzo Piano, in Uganda. We are at the final stage, but we still have to find some resources. For this I allow myself to ask Italian citizens to give us a very simple hand, which costs nothing: to donate 5 per thousand to Emergency.