It’s hard when they go off

My name is Enzo, I’m a fisherman and I live on Lampedusa. What I do I find natural because… I’ve seen them many times at sea. Before seeing them on land, I see them at sea, I’ve seen what state they arrive in. I help these people and I don’t think twice about it, because we don’t look at the colour of their skin, because for a fisherman anyone at sea that is in trouble has to be helped. A fisherman never leaves anyone at sea – that’s a rule. It was 2011 when things started getting out of control and we began to give a hand. And if I see a family around with children I take them home with me. I don’t leave them on the pavement. That’s how it is. With my wife Grazia, thank God, she more than me, we have begun to attend the parish, because I’m a believer, and if I believe in God and I’m a Christian, it’s only natural to do what we are doing, because charity is the basis of everything. Seeing these people around, it’s not easy to sleep peacefully at home, knowing what is going on outside. But not because you’re frightened, but because you know that there are people in the road, homeless, you know that it’s raining and they are there outside, you know they are hungry and have no food. And so we do what we can do, and we offer what we can. And I must say that they give us much more than what we give them. The humbleness of these people… I don’t know how to say it… they have lost everything… even their dignity as human beings… because they have had to put up with everything. Then they manage to get here and they lock them up… in that concentration camp… because that’s exactly what it is. It’s no good them saying the “Centre…” – what welcome? 280 places, and there are, I don’t know how many, a thousand of them, nine hundred, a thousand two hundred… if you’ve got 280 places, 280 is where you have to stop, you leave them out, because they are out anyway, they get out from behind. When someone embraces you – they call me “papà” you know, and my wife “mamma”; “thank you, papà”, and to my wife “thank you, mamma” – your home fills with the grace of God. Because when you do a good deed you feel good. I don’t know, come on… let’s say by the grace of God, but it’s like that. We’ll definitely go on doing this. We’ve got our problems too, we have our lives, work, we try to separate the two things. But that doesn’t mean we retreat in front of an emergency or the needs of a brother. Always within our possibilities, but we do as much as we can. What makes us sad is when we have tragedies like what happened a month ago: everyone arrives, ministers come, and then in the end, after a week, a week and a half, things go back perhaps to worse than before. Our problems on Lampedusa are increasing and nobody cares, because we do have problems on the island, because living on an island is a problem in itself: transport, hospital, schools, we’ve got nothing. But we don’t complain that much, because seeing the state in which these people arrive, we consider ourselves quite lucky. The immobility of public institutions is the problem. They go on saying “provisions for Lampedusa…”, but nothing ever happens, and what we have to do, seeing what is happening, we do, without getting too worked up about it. Every now and then a little quarrel breaks out – it’s difficult to stop a little anger overflowing, isn’t it? But we are going on doing it, and we’ll go on doing it, certainly because it’s not going to stop here.

Psss! What are you doing? Are you going away? It’s hard, you know, when they go off, but that’s the way it is. That’s the way it is.

The testimony of fisherman Enzo Riso was taken down by Marco Pavan / Fabrica.