Chapter XXIII – Palermo, Italy

September.
 
After few months spent in France working, studying and passing degrees, I was back on the roads again. To start the third year of my discovery journey, I decided to went back to Palermo.
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Well,  before telling about it, I guess it’s better to talk about the plan for the coming year.
After the tough times,  I decided not to find myself in the same situation: it was too difficult carrying all of my life with me without any security.
 
Then I  first decided to become an online teacher, translator and writer to sustain myself anywhere at any time (basically I choose to go completely as a digital nomad and to work remotely from everywhere).
I passed several degrees,  applied what I knew of the digital business to my own lifestyle and it was done; I was now able to work from anywhere at anytime and to carry on volunteering as long as I could handle it.
Secondly, I planned where to go next. As I have been interrupted halfway during the journey,  I had to finish the circle. Then my destinations where still the Mediterranean coastal countries: Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan etc…
And I knew this time, I wouldn’t go there with Marcel (which was too much of a burden to work efficiently on the field) so I decided to leave it in a place I knew it was about to be well used: the Astalli center in Palermo.
The last change in the project was the educational side project I was creating alongside my discovery of the humanitarian work: a peer exchange between youngs of the place I was going to.
It was a huge, involving and tiring process I was diving into…
 
Well,  this being established,  I had to start.
 
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video2pic (6) (1)Elodie and I introduced the peer exchange project to two classes in the Valentin high school of Valence, then I left first for Genoa in northern Italy where I went back to meet Luca, a friend with whom I was working at the Genoa University of sociology.
Together, we gathered donations to fill Marcel once again.
 
Then I crossed Italy again and went back to the Sicilian capital; Palermo.
 
 
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I’d say that nothing had really changed here while being completely different.
 
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Passed the first few days where I was getting back to the routine while seeing the friends again,  I found myself returning to the habits with a surprising facility.
 
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This time was different: I knew the people (Emilio, MariaGiulia, Manuela, Linda, Giovanna, Richard, Giulia,  Graziella and all the other hardcore helpers who were still here,  doing the crucial work every day) and I knew the place and the work.
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The breakfast, the clothing space, the sorting, advising appointments,  cleaning,  moving,  translating endless work…  was kind of engraved in my head.
 
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We also introduced Marcel to Emilio who was the most competent person to use and to take care of.(I have chosen to leave him my house on weel,  my gears…  Well,  all of my life in a way…)
 
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The things were a bit different though. Now, the center was running several laboratories and workshops for the people in needs alongside the other services provided. The projects were going from sewing lessons to cooking classes passing by carpentry work and ceramic creation…
 
 
 
 
Astalli was also restoring a new area in the city; a place where new families could be hosted (we then had to go to Catania with Emilio to bring the necessary pieces of furniture).
 
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Some volunteers from Astalli were also sent to help other organizations when the Boats such as the Poseidon or the Aquarius were returning to the city, disembarking the people they had saved in the sea. The organizations were at that moment in a difficult situation, being accused of smuggling people through the Mediterranean sea, trafficking people on mainland Europe etc … so their passages in the ports were much quieter and fewer people were allowed to go to help them.
 
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Still, the newcomers were provided with all the necessary goods (sleeping bags, shoes, food and the other first assistance services like health care, social care etc …) and the 700 people (including East, West and North Africans, some Syrians and some 150 unaccompanied minors) were received smoothly.

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Another thing I wasn’t used to was to run this peer exchange project.
We, Linda and I, had to find the right time and the to introduce the project to the kids. Then, when receiving the letters (I couldn’t handle the overwhelming happiness when receiving the first envelope) we had to start giving the mail to the center’s school students.
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It was just the first step of this year exchange experience but it was an indescribable feeling doing the postman and helping the kids working out their way to responding to their correspondent.
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I spent a month and a half in the city. As always, the time has passed quickly and I felt like I only spent a week rushing and working. I also used this time to plan the next steps of the project: a quick passage by Tunisia before going to Lebanon for the coming winter.
 
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