How to become ‘street friends’

by Annalisa Lista - 2014.01.24
How to become ‘street friends’
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Their name is Gli amici di strada (street friends). They only have two rules: 'No money, Yes transparency.' They walk the streets to distribute food and blankets to homeless people in their spare time. That's the portrait of a very young group of students from the province of Naples which - guided by a strong spirit of solidarity - decided to get in this social challenge between work and study.

How did this initiative start? '… On a cold November day, I was walking to university and I saw a tramp wearing only a short-sleeved shirt and light trousers, shivering on a bench' one of them says. But what do these guys - no good at chess and slouch at bridge, as they define themselves - practically do? Let's start from what they do not. First: they don't ask for money to those who want to help, but only for material goods: duvets, clothing, shoes. And, why not, even plastic dishes and glasses, pre-cooked and ready meal and a few minutes to listen to the stories of Hamed, Ida and his husband, ended up in the streets after the financial crisis. The hope is to involve the benefactors in the heart of the project, taking them in the alleys so that they can see first-hand the homeless' reality and build up a relationship of mutual trust with them. The total transparency principle is translated in the slogan: 'Let's help one another to help them.'

It's not an ordinary association, it's 4 friends cyclically meeting, cooking and getting on a bus, train or car to reach the most deprived areas of the city. At their expense, according a philanthropic principle. Many students and families already showed their interest, after that the initiative has been shared on Facebook. The page - collecting more and more Likes thanks to the commitment of these guys and their followers - explains in detail their goals, provides time and place of goods collection, and also gives a mobile telephone number for those who want to find out more in person and be actively part of the initiative. As they say: 'We like facts, because they make much more noise than words.' The idea is to establish a real association, create a soup kitchen and write a book with the stories told by the homeless. Without forgetting the main objective, however: find more and more volunteers and give back to Naples its identity, that of a population with a big heart.

Published in Homelessness.
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