Italy: Volunteers Show En Masse to Help Earthquake Victims

(A seismic graphic showing the distribution of aftershocks from this month’s horrendous earthquake in Central Italy.)

On August 24, a devastating 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck central Italy, claiming the lives of hundreds of area residents while ravaging the mountain town of Amatrice, where 224 of the 291 victims lived. The incident has displaced more than 1,000 people.

The scenes from the aftermath are heartbreaking – a visceral reminder of horrific outcomes that natural disasters can unleash. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi discussed the earthquake in an address to the nation:

Right now we feel terrible pain. Italy is a family that has been hit and struck, but we are not going to be stopped.

Unfortunately, the healing process may hit some speed bumps. Authorities and analysts are concerned that the mafia may try and fit its way into the rebuilding process. Organized crime still plays a large role in Italian society, intertwined with the international drug trade and racketeering and responsible for countless murders.

As Franco Roberti – head of the country’s dedicated anti-mafia agency – relayed to reporters concerning the potential of meddling by various mafia syndicates:

There are risks, it is useless to hide it The risk of infiltration is always high. Post-earthquake reconstruction is a tasty morsel for criminal organizations and business interests.

While authorities work to ensure that the healing process precludes interference from criminals, there have been some glimmers of hope and signs of a deeply entrenched commitment to the social good. More than half of the responders who helped Amatrice and the surrounding areas in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake were volunteers – specialists who commit large amounts of time to honing skills integral for emergency situations.

Among the volunteers, a group of 20 migrants from Africa pitched in, helping clear rubble in the search for survivors.

Witnessing such selflessness and a drive to support the social good without profit is both commendable and paramount for the best possible functioning of society. Supporting individuals such as those that stepped up in Italy – as well as the organizations that help coordinate their efforts – is imperative for private businesses, government bodies, and individuals alike.

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