Swimming the seas of the world
Tiberias, Israel 1st stage 04 – 09 May 2010
I’m going to tell you about an experience which will remain indellible in my heart. From 4th to 9th of May I shared emotions, joy, tears and moments of prayer with amazing people, people who are fulfilled by working towards the serenity of their neighbours. I spent five intensive, uninterrupted days and even now, a few days later, I’m the happy prisoner of a beautiful memory.
On the morning of 5th May, together with my father, Ciro, Giovanni Giordano, Filippo Tassara and Piero Abbina to all of whom I owe my profound gratitude for their hard work to ensure the success of the event, I visited the headquarters of Tsad Kadima (in yiddish “a step forward”), an association whose aim is to integrate children with cerebral problems into “normal” society, and to this end, they work with courage and strength, regardless of the religion, creed or ethnic origin of their patients. At the entrance, together with Alessandra Viterbo co founder of the Kibbuts, the teachers and directors and children were waiting to welcome us.
It was a meeting which was full of surprises.
Together with my travelling companions, I was able to witness the passion and selflessness with which the teachers work, sustained by ultra modern tecniques, and above all the joy they expressed in our dialogue.
It was a real lesson to see people who despite living in war time, strive for peace as a necessary part of life.
And spontaneously, I think of our country, Italy, which doesn’t have the extreme conditions of the Holy Land but nonetheless is suffering a different kind of defeat, the closure of the Santa Lucia hospital, an institution for the specialized scientific care and rehabilitaion of neuromotory patients suffering from lesions to the nervous system or muscular skeletal apparatus. The hospital carries out intensive activities of research, science and teaching. I hope that this tragedy can be avoided because it is surely the duty of any civilized country to maintain excellent facilities such as this one.
Having left Tsad Kadima, we went to the Italian Embassy in Tel Aviv, where we were received by Ambassador Luigi Mattiolo and the Minister Counsellor Gabriele Altana who expressed encouragement for the event, guaranteeing their participation.
In the afternoon, we were joined by Paolo Luccardi and Nora Alkabes, and headed for Tiberiade in Galilea where, with Filippo and Giovanni, we hired a boat to assist the first training session in the lake.
And at last, here we are on Friday 7th May, the big day!
Wake up at 05.45 local time (Israel is an hour ahead). After breakfast, we left for Cafer nahum, where my swim would begin and where a RAI TV troupe were waiting for us with Orna Shimoni, the founder of the Beit Eyal Kibbuts, a person whose strength and gentleness are unique, together with her collaborators. There were four boats, one occupied by the RAI and one by my fantastic team, composed of Ciro, Giovanni, Filippo and Orna who encouraged me until the last stroke.
During the crossing I didn’t feel like I was swimming, there was a surreal atmosphere; the smooth lake seemed designed by a great impressionist and, although there were many of us, the silence surrounded everything, interrupted only by the light breeze. We all felt extraordinarily close in a place which is not only beautiful but which has profound historical and spiritual significance.
Having covered 16.00 km in three hours and thirty nine minutes, we arrived at Ein Gev, greeted with smiles and friendly hugs by our friends. Amongst these I want to particularly thank Yoel, Alessandro’s son, Piero, Paolo, Gabriele, Nora, Eyal, Noah, Shoham, Amos, Idan, Yvonnes, Yvette, Donata, Simonetta, Edna, Luigi, Marco and the RAI team who, with Claudio Pagliata, I thank from my heart for having transmitted the message that a society without barriers and frontiers means no more wars, no more suffering and above all no emargination.
I embrace with gratitude and affection my team which includes Filippo Tassara, Giovanni Giordano and Ciro, my father. And my thoughts go inevitably to Rome, to the Circolo Canottieri Aniene from where everything started: thanks to President Malagò, thanks to Professor Emanuele Emmanuele of the Fondazione Roma, thanks to Marco Zilia, thanks to Piero Abbina because once again all of you have had faith in me.
On this occasion I also had the support of the University of the Technion in Haifa and with extreme pride from Selex Galileo. My heartfelt thanks to all of you.
I conclude this unforgettable adventure with a quotation from an illustrious jew, Thomas Mann, who wrote “Interest in illness is always and only another way of expressing an interest in life”
Goodbye until the next stage.