by Anne Sophie Cnapleynck
Milan – How is the work of RFK Human Rights Italy progressing? Upcoming initiatives? “With the new President Stefano Lucchini, we are doing a lot. We provide help, housing and services to those in need. Our Florence office has been used to house doctors and nurses. We will soon be working in Rome to help test children, families and nurses and support research against coronavirus. In Milan we will work with NGOs to help those in need. The collaboration between American and Italian donors has been and will be fundamental“. In an interview with “Amica”, signed by Antonella Catena, Kerry Kennedy, Robert Kennedy’s daughter and President of the Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Human Rights, summarized the activities carried out in Italy by the centre dedicated to her father during these pandemic months.
Activities that, as the writer and human rights activist pointed out, bear witness to the excellent relationship between the United States and Italy. “Our initiatives – said Kennedy – involve American donors who have long worked with our international partners. I am thinking of Donato Tramuto, founder of Health eVillages and member of the RFK board. And Douglas Hickey, Commissioner General of the EXPO in Milan. And others, Americans concerned about the impact of the coronavirus in Italy. RFK Italy is our oldest international partner, and Italian Americans are the fourth largest ethnic group in the USA. My daughters Cara, Mariah and Michaela consider it a second homeland, for that paternal grandmother Matilda Cuomo who came from Sicily and grandfather Mario who came from the province of Naples. As for me – continued the President of RFK – I was in Lombardy in January, when we all began to hear about the virus that was still far away then, in Wuhan. The Italians in the following weeks were an example: the government, private companies and individuals joined together to guarantee who was in the front line. Our lives have changed, but the spirit of the Italian people has become an example in the world. A very important example, when the coronavirus arrived in New York and spread to the USA“.
RFK Italy immediately raised about 500.000 euros, combining the efforts and generosity of American and Italian donors. Among the first donations made was an ambulance for the city of Florence equipped to treat Covid patients. Ambulance dedicated to her niece Maeve Kennedy and her son Gideon, who died in a tragic accident on April 2. On this subject, Antonella Catena asked Kerry Kennedy a personal question.
The ambulance is dedicated to your niece Maeve and her son Gideon. Can you tell us an anecdote about them?
“My sister Kathleen, her mother, wrote a letter after they disappeared. I’ll leave it to her. “Much has been written about Maeve. Her joining the Peace Corps, climbing Kilimanjaro, hitchhiking in Southeast Asia with the boy she’d just fallen in love with, fighting AIDS. She had many gifts, but what I will always remember is her enthusiasm for others. In one of her emails she talked about the importance of vaccines and the enthusiasm for her sisters and their achievements. That was Maeve, who stood by me when my niece Saoirse died: she gave me comfort and love. And her son Gideon was so unique. Of all the infinite grandchildren and cousins he was the one who really, whoever came into Grandma’s living room, was a wonderful friend… He approached everyone as if the world was really a place of people to trust, to embrace. He was full of wonder and fun. And he was a child who knew he was loved…”