A few thoughts from Maggie who visited one of the sites of the recent Italian earthquake.
The first thing that hits you when you approach Amatrice is how beautiful it is. Hosted by Save the Children Italy, I arrive on a still, sunny day – the mountains almost surround the place and the air seems so clear… until you find yourself in clouds of dust from the bulldozers pushing away stones and parts of peoples’ lives. Many people still live in tents following the earthquake which struck the area on August 24th and the many aftershocks – at least those people who have chosen to stay close to the town. When I say ‘chosen’, this is not like any other kind of choice. People are also waiting for the temporary wooden houses that are to replace the tents. They will exchange one form of temporary housing for another and may live in these for several years.
Everywhere you go there is so much help – the Italian Civil Protection organisation is unique and draws together so many aid workers. But already there are signs of some of the organisations withdrawing as the business of planning the future of the town starts to be discussed. What will be rebuilt and where? And what will this say about what is valued in this place?
On such a bright, clear day it’s hard to imagine the great loss of life that happened in this lovely place. Disaster is always incongruous.