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Come-due-stelle



The story we are about to narrate begins on a bus making its way in the streets of Rome under a heavy rainfall.Or rather, it began earlier at Tagab, a little village on the Afghan mountains that form the border with Iran.

In that desolate place, hunger, cold and fear are the daily experiences of those living there. That is why some decide to leave that place and seek new pastures in other countries. In December 2008, four young men decided to do that, and we catch up with them on that Roman Bus.


Paolo Balduzzi – Rome

vetro_pioggiaThat evening the Tiber was near the point of overflow. Carlotta Mismetti Capua was on that bus. She was looking forward to an enjoyable evening eating supper with some friends. She was struck by the despair written in bold letters on the faces of four young men: they seemed lost in the metropolis. What could she do? She could go on with her plans and put aside all memory of those unfortunate young men, or do something to help them.

Carlotta chose the second option, and this is her story. She did this against all odds, and that is how the City of Asterix came about. The City of Asterix is a project of journalistic storytelling on Face book. The short film about it won the competition My Rome organised by the Rome Fiction Fest 2010. It is the story of four Afghan youths who escaped from a war zone and made it to Rome on foot. The book, based on the web contents, was published in February 2011.

What happened to the city and in the city once the story came out?We asked this and other questions to Carlotta herself.

We have read the story of the City of Asterix on your blog on Face book. We followed the story of the young men you met on the bus one evening. For you as a woman and a journalist, what is the relevance of this experience today?

"As a journalist, I find it hard to answer, because I veered considerably from the traditional path, which dictates a certain distance from the events that we observe in order to narrate them as objectively as possible. Although this distance is sometime necessary in our work, it could be, however, mere cynicism or distraction, or worse still, laziness. In this case, this distance disappeared, and I found myself giving a lot of time and care to these young men. In taking a different road, I learned a lot, and began to see the world from another perspective: that of these young men. As a woman I learned what patience is as I did my utmost so that these young men could be accepted and welcomed, thus causing a lot of confusion in the circles I usually frequented. I did not intent to do any sort of ministry; yet these young men have become a part of my life; this was the great change that I never expected but one that, after more than two years, I look back upon with amazement and joy.So you came in contact with suffering, with persons that society tends to exclude".

What did this experience tell you about a city as complex as Rome?
"Surely that Rome has changed, and that we, the citizens, have become enraged persons, who have forgotten what kindness, something we have cherished for centuries, is all about. This new attitude was not a typical trait of the Roman citizens. This discovery made me very sad, and I consider this as a most negative moment for Rome".

CMCapuaWhich are the moments in your storytelling that have stuck in your mind, and why is that?
"One such moment was when I received an e-mail from Martha, an Italian living in Afghanistan. She works in a refugees’ camp containing thousands of evacuees. Even from such a long distance, she, so accustomed to suffering, was happy with this small voluntary and solitary act of solidarity. It was a welcome break from the tragic news that she normally received about Italy. This young lady was a little less ashamed to hail from this country, and this gave meaning to what I was trying to do".

According to you, what could a citizen do to make his/her city a better place to live in?
"Each one needs to live as a citizen, but not individually. Citizens need to go out and make friends with their neighbours, and not be afraid to give to others: after all, we are all happy to receive from others. Above all, they should allow their fantasy to be expressed".

How important are personal relationships in a city, and what are the benefits of this dialogue for us as persons and citizens? 
"Personal relationships are very important. They help to make life a little happier".

What is the contribution that diversity could give to a city? Is it necessary?
"Diversity is a fact of life. In the past, Rome, being the capital of an empire, welcomed peoples from all over the world, and some of these became famous poets and even illustrious emperors. Today, however, instead of contributing, diversity, because of racism, is taking away rather than contributing".

What is, after all, the City of Asterix, and how come you chose this name?
"It is an invisible city, made up of pixels and good intentions. It was Akmed who gave it the name, and to discover how this Afghan boy managed to put together the Asterix cartoons and the Caput Mundi, well, you need to join the Fb group or read the book".  

Carlotta Mismetti Capua, “Come due stelle nel mare”, 186 p. Piemme Editore

© Photo Copyright RICCIO and International Journalism Festival, Creative Commons License

    

    

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