Not just any Easter. Today it is difficult to talk about rebirth, optimism and the future, because with everything that is happening in the world it is not possible to remain indifferent. Però But even in these moments it is important to keep faith alive, believe in the power of change and think about how in our small way we can make the world a better place.

This year we do not want to dedicate traditional Easter greetings to you, but we would like to invite you to never lose hope by telling you a story of optimism, solidarity and resilience. That of Pasquale Coppola, President of Trame Africane, a philanthropic organization that supports the development of some of the poorest villages in Kenya.

An interview that talks about goals and dreams. Have a good reading 💚

1. How and when was the Trame Africane association born? (History)

I started volunteering in Africa first with some so-called institutional associations. From there I understood that it was time for me to go further. After that there were a series of coincidences, which then brought me to Kenya.

I went to Cernobio for a training course for my job, and speaking with the trainer I also talked about the desire to arrive in a place where I could be “responsible” and sure that my sacrifices, but above all the trust of my friends and people who entrusted me with this trust, were successful; see things accomplished while respecting the pure spirit of volunteering.

Trame Africane was born from this chance meeting, my trainer knew a colleague, other volunteers and some nuns; put us in contact and from this meeting of seven madmen scattered around Italy Trame Africane was born in 2001.

2. When you arrived in these villages it wasn’t easy to leave. What situation did you find?

Machaka is a place where the word “poverty” finds its true essence.

The inhabitants lived in dilapidated huts made of mud, in the luckiest cases, of wood. They were overcrowded, they slept and ate in the same space using a hearth made of stones which was used both for cooking and for heating the hut. There were no toilets, and common outdoor latrines were used to relieve oneself.

The total absence of the most basic hygiene rules was the cause of countless diseases and infections. Furthermore, the percentage of AIDS seropositivity was very high, around 60%. People were dying, but they didn’t even know AIDS existed.

The most fragile people were women and children; the former forced to leave their children to look for wood, water and some food, the children left alone around the village, without any supervision and without the possibility of being able to attend school.

This is what we found upon our arrival in November 2003: we started from there!

3. Can you tell us what the Machaka Project is? How many people and how are you helping them?

“The Machaka Project broke a story

of poverty so if the grandfather was poor,

the son would have been poor,

the nephew also and so on.

You at Trame Africane have cut

this chain and you have started a new one

phase: that of possibilities.”

Sister Mary Agnes

The project was born and developed in support of the village of Machaka, from which it takes its name, and subsequently expanded to also involve the neighboring villages of Kiirua.

he great poverty of these places has meant that the inhabitants live in extremely disadvantaged conditions, far from any possibility of growth and development. The objective of Trame Africane, in this case, is to provide the local populations with concrete support, aimed first of all at improving their living conditions through the creation of real possibilities for development and self-sufficiency,through the construction or improvement of infrastructure, through health education, education, professional training and inclusion in the world of work. This project was born, and continues to develop, thanks to the collaboration with the Sisters of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, already present and active in the village.

Specifically, the Machaka Project is divided into various points, developed over the years with perseverance and dedication: health-care, education, work, orphanage and elderly people. And from year to year it is enriched with new training programs and new structures to expand the training and work offering.

Feeding Programme: the program reserved for the children of the village where, in addition to being followed from a nutritional, hygienic and health point of view, they begin a first course of schooling.

Children’s Home:the orphanage in the Machaka mission which welcomes both orphaned children and children whose parents are unable to assist them experiencing situations of extreme hardship.

Vocational Training Centre which hosts, in the Machaka mission, a training center with these courses: knitting, embroidery, tie & dye, fashion & design, cosmetology, food production & services, house keeping, baking & pastry, art & beadword, computer.

Aged and Poor Project: Aged and Poor Project: the project that guarantees the elderly people of the village the supply of food every two weeks, monthly insurance coverage (NHIF) to access health services, clothing and various items.

Students Sponsorship Project: the scholarship project thanks to which children and young people have the opportunity to undertake a course of study starting from the Nursery up to Colleges and Universities. This in particular is the project that is closest to my heart, because just imagining that people destined for invisibility have managed, thanks to our support but above all thanks to their commitment, to change their destiny is something wonderful. And those young people who have graduated and graduated today represent an example for everyone, including for all of us, of how much you can change your destiny with commitment and work. Today those kids have become professionals, doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, but above all they have become the engine that is involving the entire community in fighting the scourge of poverty. con l’impegno ed il lavoro si può cambiare il proprio destino.

23 years of Machaka Project: 23 of lives saved, hopes realized.

4. What have been your biggest accomplishments to date?

We have never liked talking about numbers, about completed projects because we always think about what we can still do.

Sister Maria Pia, historical reference both for us and for the sisters there in Kenya, told us on the occasion of the 20 years of the association: “From the generosity of your hearts and your sacrifice you have allowed us through our various services to restore hope to sick, give food to hungry families and a future to numerous children whose education, the basis on which they build their future, would have remained just a dream, an aspiration never achieved.”

Well these are the objectives achieved and which represent objectives always to be achieved.

5. Is there a particular memory that made you say “we are really making a difference”?

I have lots of them. Seeing the children of the village become doctors, nurses, teachers is something terrifying.

But one thing I always remember is when the hospital’s first operating theater in Kiirua first went into operation. I was there and there was an emergency delivery to do, which I attended. They began to carry out the cesarean section, because the baby’s heartbeat was weak and they had to deliver it immediately; once the baby was born he didn’t start crying right away. There were many thoughts, the operating room seemed enormous before the operation began, but at a certain point it seemed so small.

They took the baby to the neonatal island, turned him upside down, did some maneuvers; for me it was as if an hour had passed. Finally this baby starts crying, there was a sigh of relief. The nun cleaned him, put him in the cover, and when he passed me she said: “if this child had been born a few weeks ago he would have died, because all this wasn’t there”. And this, despite the years and all the things I do, every time I tell it, it is something that excites me so much.

“I Support African Textures”, a project that allows us to make a difference.

We thank Pasquale for his testimony and for allowing us to get to know in depth a reality that, despite being so far from us, concerns us. And we thank him for collaborating with us in the creation of the “Io Sostengo Trame Africane” project, an initiative which from September to today has allowed us to raise, through the sale of Bag in Boxes, over 5,000 euros which will support the continuation of the education of 12 young girls, through scholarships.

Pasqua secondo noi è soprattutto questo: pensare, sognare e agire per un futuro migliore.