Beyond the Borders

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Border between the self-declared indipendent Republic of Abkhazia and Georgia

Back to Italy from my journey in Georgia.

I cross the first border on land, between Georgia and Turkey, on a mashrukta where half of the passengers are illegally transporting cigarettes (which are sold at ridiculous price in Georgia). They spread the extra packages among the passengers, the lady sitting next to me is filling her bag as much as possible. At the passport control in Sarp, the lady is refused. She didn’t make it this time. I was sitting there thinking about my return to Italy, and what I’m gonna do, and then I saw her empty seat and I realised how hard it is life for most people everyday. They can’t dream or think too much, they don’t have choices, they struggle to do whatever is possible to survive.

Back in Italy, I’m struck by the news of a “hope-boat” shipwreck, overloaded with people who were escaping from North Africa to look for a better future in Europe. Fleeing from wars, famine, violence, hundreds of them died in one night, thousands have died since some decades. Crossing the Mediterranean sea is only one step of the expensive and dangerous trip these people have to undertake from their home countries to reach our coasts. They have to, most often, though they would rather stay at their home, with their families. I don’t know how many people have made it to land in Europe, out of those who have tried so far. I don’t want to think about numbers or percentage. They are human beings. In Rome ther is an Archive of Migrants Memory collecting their testimonies.

I spent one month in Georgia, travelling and meeting with the “others”, Georgians, Abkhasians, Turks, Armenians, Azeri. I met people of every ages trying to find different ways for overcoming barriers, borders, for getting to know each other and living in peace.. I was hiking the mountains and looking for wildlife trails which would also put together people, looking for a new vision about coexistence- human to wildlife, human to human. I met people who are “internally displaced” in their country, I met people who are trying to make them having a better life.

But what I will never forget- and I want to retain it in my short memory now, at this precise moment that I’m back here and still find so much indifference, prejudice, ignorance-

I met the smiles of the people, their kindness towards Italians (Celentano!!), their open hands while freely giving us food and help. I will never forget the old lady giving us pears on our 20km hike to Mestia; Leo who bought Kachapuri & Pepsi for our 6-hours bus trip from Zugdidi; the guys who gave me a lift in Borjomi and dropped me off with 5 apples for my trip; Shota, Nino, Bata, Manana, and most of all the “Golden Swallows” (students of Rondine Cittadella della Pace) who made us feel at home since the beginning.

This is humanity, this what we must aim for.

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