With love, from Venice to Vijayawada

: In the sixteenth century, Niccolo de’ Conti, an explorer from the Republic of Venice, visited India. He found that the words in the Telugu language end with vowels just like those in Italian and referred to the language as the ‘Italian of the East’. The phrase has stuck ever since and is used whenever Telugu is praised. Vijayawada has been the heartland for Telugu from time immemorial, and has become even more so after the bifurcation of the State of Andhra Pradesh.

Many candidates contesting elections from Vijayawada have promised in their manifestoes that they will transform the city, which stands on the banks of the Krishna river and has two canals transecting it, into a Venice, where citizens can sail the waterways in modern gondolas. The incumbent State government has also promised to make Amaravati, the new waterfront capital, a sort of Venice in which boats will be an important mode of transport.

A group of 12 women travellers from the Venetian town of Pordenone visited Vijayawada as if to renew and strengthen the ancient ties between the two regions. Though their journey to Vijayawada is not as arduous as that of de’ Conti, it is nevertheless an “exploration”.

Calling themselves the ‘Lady Avventura’, the women came to spend time with children they have ‘adopted’, that is, they are ‘sponsors’ providing funds for underprivileged children’s food, education and healthcare via the Care and Share Charitable Trust, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that receives most of its funding from hundreds of Italian sponsors. Several of the children are orphans and over 400 of them are HIV positive. “But for the funds we receive from Italy, these children from the poorest of poor homes would have succumbed to disease,” says Care and Share’s regional director Swati Mohanty.

Members of two working women’s groups — Panathlon International and FIDAPA (Federazione Italiana Donne Arti Professioni Affari) — formed the Lady Avventura group to travel to different countries and reach out to underprivileged children and women. Romanina Santin Nardini, who belongs to both Panathlon and FIDAPA, says that Lady Avventura, which is just three years old, has already made three trips. Beginning with countries in Africa, members went to Sri Lanka the following year, and to Vijayawada this time, drawn by their longstanding connection with the children at Care and Share.

Silvia Gramigna, one of the women, said she had come to Vijayawada more than once. She had been associated with Care and Share for over 20 years, she said, introducing a young man now working for the State Bank of India as her “adopted son”. All other members of Lady Avventura had adopted children in Vijayawada, she said, pointing to the youngsters in tow.

Promise to return

The dozen women spent all of Wednesday with children of different institutions under Care and Share, distributing small gifts and knick-knacks to them. “Giving away the knick-knacks gave us great joy, but we came to see how things were under the new management of Care and Share,” said Ms. Gramigna, referring to the recent change of guard at the NGO. She promised the group would go back to Italy and raise more funds for the children.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2020 8:31:26 AM |

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