A bridge to overcome barriers together. People at the service of People
May 13, 2019
Court of Torre Annunziata
Giancarlo Siani’s Room
I hope it transpires from my words the true and profound joy I feel for being here among you today. Meanwhile, because I am in Torre Annunziata, my city, which I love deeply and to which I feel deeply connected, and then because I am in a Court, the place of legality, the most suitable way to imagine the future, design it with enthusiasm and trust, with the certainty of finding the tools to build equity, knowledge and progress.
I want to start by immediately thanking the President Gennaro Torrese and the Council of the Order of Lawyers because with the interest and the closeness they wanted to demonstrate today it was possible to realize this meeting.
I therefore thank the city of Massa Lubrense that at the beginning of this year it has equipped itself with a very important tool such as the PEBA, the plan to eliminate architectural barriers, and also the city of Torre Annunziata because it has committed itself to provide it as soon as possible. For this last Saturday I symbolically wanted to unite these two realities, to try to bring their respective citizens with disabilities closer to their institutions.
A thought of particular gratitude goes also to the comprehensive institute Bozza Otra and to the Giorgio De Chirico State Art High School for their precious contribution and because the awareness of the young generations on the issues of diversity and disability will certainly determine the construction of a fair world, just and inclusive. I really hope that the intelligence and availability of the teachers of these two schools serve as an example for their children and their families.
Disability resides in society and not in the person. This is the reflection from which I always start when I begin my speech.
And for this reason solidarity and sharing, important feelings for everyone, for a person with disabilities assume a fundamental importance throughout his life.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities draws very well, with great effectiveness, the conditions within which every person with a disability must be able to organize his or her existence and also stresses, as an extraordinarily important fact, how every society must take responsibility for disability transforming this condition from a private fact to a social fact.
A world of solidarity, fair, equitable, of course, leaves no one behind and frailties take charge. Of course, this on paper, in intentions.
But the real world is harder, and it is difficult to create these conditions because the obstacles are many and some are also difficult to overcome.
An obstacle is the economic factor, an obstacle is indifference, an obstacle is also the lack of knowledge, ignorance. To all these impediments, however, science and politics CAN, if in synergy and with conviction, to a large extent obviate.
In recent years, science has made great strides. Technological research, thanks to the extraordinary skills and competences of researchers, has been able to achieve, in the prosthetic field but not only, excellent products, able to radically modify, for the better, the quality of our lives. These improvements, believe me, do not represent an advantage only for people with disabilities, but in reality they represent a very notable convenience, even in economic terms, for the whole society. For this reason it would be very important that in our country we were constantly updating the Tariff Nomenclator, the document that lists the aids and technological devices provided by the National Health Service to people with disabilities, following the technological evolution of prostheses and prostheses in a systematic way aids to ensure people with disabilities those obvious benefits derived from the progress of scientific research. And it would be equally important to work to ensure that in Italy inclusion and social cohesion represented the principles underlying political and corporate decision-making processes at all levels, applying the universal design approach because the human being is not standard: it can be high or low, child or elderly, it could walk around by bicycle or wheelchair: universal design is the social approach that proclaims the human right of all to inclusion and the design approach to achieve it.
The point is: why can’t people with disabilities in our country enjoy these amazing goals achieved by scientific research? Why is a so dramatically obsolete tariff nomenclator still in force in Italy? How much are we losing, as a country, in economic terms and in terms of civilization, continuing to ignore these delays?
The World Health Organization provides us with really frightening data: every year more than a million amputations are performed due to diabetes. Every 30 seconds a lower limb is amputated.
The number of new cancer cases per year will rise from 14 to 22 million over the next two decades.
The rare diseases are around 6000, and 80% have a genetic origin. According to recent estimates, in the European Union, about 30 million people suffer from a rare disease, only in Italy are about 2 million and of these 70% is represented by children.
I stress these terrible numbers because their greatness should, I believe, clarify the urgent need to address the problem of disability with new parameters, moving from the concept of mere assistance to that of inclusion, participation, listening, promoting paths of autonomy and enhancement of skills, focusing a lot on the world of work and always bearing in mind that even in this field, indeed above all in this field, it is necessary to apply oneself by looking at a long and planning look, because a large investment today will certainly allow great savings for tomorrow .
And since we are talking about people, and people should never be represented exclusively as a cost, I also express the hope that disability, understood as diversity, may very soon come to be experienced as a resource, as an opportunity growth and development for all companies.
I am deeply convinced of the need to have to reach as well as the heart the consciences of those who have the power to make our society accessible and livable to all people with disabilities, in order to shorten that enormous distance that still today precludes a full right of citizenship : The right to active participation.
It is clear that with this intervention I do not exhaust even the slightest part of everything I would have to say. The themes that I could bring to your attention are endless, the needs of a world that every day fights, almost in solitude, for objectives that are sometimes so minimal that for others they are only a foregone starting point. I could tell you about the families whose shoulders bear the burden of such complicated management that love, alone, is not enough to support peacefully, or those children who can only go to school episodically, because they do not find adequate support structures for inside the buildings and we all know instead how crucial they are for the kids, to be able to have a happy life, socialization, sharing, friendship.
From all these arguments we can deduce, it seems to me, an incontrovertible fact: in addition to legislative and scientific and technological innovations, it is necessary and fundamental to take care of promoting a real cultural revolution capable of profoundly affecting people’s consciences, stimulating their capacity to look beyond appearances, to finally realize a society that leaves no one behind but that instead supports the ambitions of all with enthusiasm and conviction, helping and promoting the development of each individual.
In my experience I know for sure that a lot has counted the stubbornness, the firm will to overcome the obstacles that life placed before me transforming them into opportunities for growth and change, but a lot however has also counted the closeness of the people I met during the years, which made me feel that I was not, and I am not, alone in this journey.
Of course I’m not here to tell you that everything was easy, linear and wonderful, indeed. There have been many moments of objective difficulty, both practical and emotional, of discouragement and pessimism, but this, I believe, concerns the life of each of us, beyond the “skills” available to us. But I realized that it is important to find the strength within us to get up, and then someone who holds out his hand is always there!
As you know, among the objectives of our project is the one, particularly dear to me, of helping people with disabilities in the Kivu Region through training and sending fundamental tools for rehabilitation and care, such as aids and hospital facilities.
To reach this important goal I thought it would be necessary to sign a memorandum of understanding, which does not restrict but unites solidarity and brings together the valuable knowledge, among the most important hospitals and rehabilitation centers in our country, such as the Don institute Gnocchi, the Biomedical Campus General Hospital, the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies and the Institute of Sport Science and Medicine, in order to find the fundamental tools to respond as completely as possible to the request for help that comes from the population with disabilities of the Kivu region.
The goal is to be able to deliver the precious containers to the Shirika rehabilitation centers La Umoja of Goma and Heri Kwetu of Bukavu, to the Pediatric Department of the Provincial General Hospital of Bukavu which houses the malnourished children in need of special milk, to the refugee camp of Mugunga, at the Hospital of Monvu, on the Island of Idjwi, and finally at the hospital of Caracciolini in Nyamilima.
All this can of course be achieved only with the precious diplomatic experience of the Italian Development Cooperation and with the help, also valuable, of religious congregations located in various local dioceses present in that tormented territory, indispensable aids to facilitate and simplify the intrusive bureaucracy that reigns in the local institutions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and succeed in delivering the precious containers.
You may think that I set myself too big goals, but I learned that if you don’t get anywhere by yourself, together you can go anywhere.
all the best, Salvatore Cimmino