(Hello Seve! I am aware that you started to do some activities with the kids of the Welcoming House. I would like to understand what you are doing, your experience here, and how this desire to come here was born in you, that is, the origin of your experience here?)

My name is Matteo Severgnini.  I am the Education Advisor at Luigi Giussani High School (LGHS).

I think that this experience started many months ago during the lockdown, when Michael Kawuki (LGHS Head Teacher), Joseph Wandera (Deputy Head Teacher), Betty (Teacher), Marceline (Director of Studies) and I, decided to go and visit our students one by one, knocking on their doors especially in Kireka and Naguru. We went there because we wanted to visit them at home, and that was a great surprise for us. It was also full of emotions because many children were so happy to see us and many of them, were telling us: “We are blessed to see you because now we know that there is still hope for us: We belong to someone.” While they were saying this, I felt that I too was belonging to someone. We were so happy after those visits, and we decided to have a meeting and lunch with Rose (MPI director) at my home. We wanted to tell her about what we saw and to judge together what had happened because it was something great and beautiful. We also wanted to share the challenges we found out among our students at their homes in order to find some solutions and hypotheses. When we started to tell her about our worries, Rose stopped us and challenged us in a very incredible way: “Okay! What you saw, is very important and also the problems are quite important. We need to face them, for this reason, I am asking you to write me a report. But I want to ask you a question. How many schools in the world do you know that have been doing these kinds of visits? Really, how many schools in your opinion, are going out encountering and meeting their own students one by one at their homes?” She continued: “If you don’t understand the origin of your experience, also the consequences will die very soon. The most important thing is to understand what and who managed to move your heart and made you move and visit your students.” This was a great discovery for us because it was true, we were not aware of the origin of our action. While we were thinking and being challenged by this question, we thought that the only point that moved our hearts was the fact that we are loved. That Michael, Betty, Joseph, Marceline and I, have been living and we are living a love that is for free and that was the origin that pushed us also to go and visit our students. There is someone (who we are saying is Christ), that is loving us so much and pushed us to go and visit all our students. I was struck because I am always thinking that the revolutionary thing is what I can do. Instead, the revolutionary thing, the novelty, is the One that is conquering my heart, that is moving my heart to go and visit all my students. So, since that lunch, a seed entered in my heart because while we were visiting our students, we came once also here to the Welcoming House to stay with the children for one full day. I found myself belonging to this place! During that very lunch after this provocation of Rose, I asked her: “Rose, if I must follow what is happening to my life, I would like also to go to Welcoming House to visit these friends of mine. I would like to stay once a week with them because I think that staying with them, is also another way for me to discover the One that is conquering my heart. I also asked my Headteacher and the other administrators of the school permission to absent myself once a week from school. They said, “for us, it is fine because if you are doing something that is helping you, we believe it can also be something that is helping Luigi Giussani High School.” Starting from there, I decided to come here every Friday morning at 9:30 am. We do study together up to 12:30 or 1 pm and after, we usually watch cartoons together up to 2 pm. All the assignments and lessons that we are doing are related to the cartoons that we are watching. We study English and Mathematics, having in mind the cartoon. This is the origin or the reason as to why I have been coming here for the last two months.

In these past 2 months, what struck me the most is that all of us, are made to be happy. Whenever I am entering that gate, the way that the kids are welcoming me is so beautiful because they are so happy. The second thing that struck me is that this happiness comes from the fact that there is a relationship. They are always waiting for me and on the other side, I am also waiting for them. Every Friday morning, I am very happy to know that I am coming here. The third thing is that we are made for something great in life and for this reason, there is a kind of seriousness with which we are doing our assignments. And why should we be serious with our task? Because we perceive that also this small task that we are facing every Friday, that is, Mathematics and English, these simple exercises are done to become adult, that is, to grow. Facing small tasks with heart is helping us to understand that the task in life is deep. We are made for something great. And the other thing is that the curiosity to grow is helped by beautiful things, for this reason, we decided to watch every Friday a cartoon that is not just a simple cartoon. Usually, they are very meaningful cartoons. We are watching Toy Story, which is an animated cartoon about belongingness. And we are watching Kung Fu Panda, that is instead about discovering that life is given for something great because Someone made us with this greatness. In order to be great, you need to have friends. Through beauty, curiosity is becoming a method for us to become an adult.

(How has this experience here helped you to do your work at LGHS?)

What I am facing here is helping me at LGHS but also, it is true the opposite! The work at school is helping me to come here as well because life is one. Let me say that the work that I am doing at school, is helping me for example, to be faithful to this moment because when I am here with these 40 kids, I have always in mind this point, “But if Michael, Wandera, Betty, and Marceline were here, in which way would they face this moment?” These people, though they are not here, are helping me to stay with these kids. From here, I am learning a simplicity of belongingness, because all these kids, the thing that they really show me, is that in order to live, you need to belong. All these kids while we are doing assignments together, they are always depending on you in the sense that they are looking for you, maybe to do 2+2 =4. They are there with you, depending on you, and following you. This is a kind of simplicity of saying, “I belong to you, and if I don’t belong to you, I am not even able to do 2+2.” I need this kind of simple awareness in belonging, that is the real freedom.

Thank you.

Story compiled by Vicent.

(13Th November 2020)

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