Elsa Michael, Angelo Bruni and Luca Donnini are individuals who work in the fashion industry in Italy. Three of them have been helping intuitions such as orphanages and associations for the blind and the deaf. Four years back, Elsa and Angelo managed to involve Luca in their dream of helping people with disabilities to enable them have better lives.
Here are the contents of a brief interview the trio had with Eri-TV during their stay in Asmara.
- -Elsa Michael, Italy
-Thank you for joining us today. Tell us how it all started.
To begin with, I grew up in an orphanage in Asmara. As luck would have it, I was fortunate to have good education and a great career followed. I have lived in Italy for almost 45 years and I’ve worked in fashion industry, at a big American company, for thirty years. I am the merchandise director of Guess, in Italy.
It all began when I was here to visit my family. Since I was lucky to have a good life, I wanted to do something for people who need help. We began with the orphanage at Godaif. After visiting the orphanage, we were able to help them with solar panels and fix the houses, including the water wells. We did this because we thought that electricity and water are of utmost priority the orphans could ever need. But this was just a beginning for us. The good thing we were able to do in the process was that we made an excellent connection with the Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare. We asked what kind of help we could extend and the ministry gave us helpful information on what we could do.
-You made your way to the Abraha Bahta School for the blind. I take it that this was through the connections you made with the Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare?
Yes. One of the many helpful ideas we got. The school needed help with educational supplies. We were happy to provide educational and other tools, including brails that would get them through three years. We also saw that their bedrooms and kitchens were damaged, so we made plans to restore the walls for the coming year which we were able to do.
-Why did you start a vocational sewing school for the hearing impaired?
As we kept in touch with the Ministry, they informed us the association for the deaf could also benefit from the help we were giving. Those people are grownups and have the ability to work. That is when my husband and I got to thinking on what is the best thing we could provide for these people. As people who are in the fashion industry, with my husband who is a technician for the sewing machines, we chose to go with the vocational sewing school. The goal is to open an opportunity for them to have a profession so that they could lead better lives. We got around 29 sewing machines, 19 computers along with the various sewing tools required. It has already been a year since the establishment of the school and 30 students have graduated, who are now working at different institutions. We get the tools from various donors. Getting the donations, buying the tools and getting it all here takes a lot of work and it sometimes is challenging. However, it is all worth it when you are helping to change someone’s life for the better.
- -Angelo Bruni, Italy.
-Mr. Angelo, do you have anything to add, and how does all of this make you feel?
Four years ago, we decided to do this important project with my wife. After the first two undertakings, we asked what was necessary for our third venture. We chose the projects for the deaf and the blind simply because that is what I do in Italy. I remember some years back, when I was in the US, seeing some young blind and deaf children working on sewing machines which really impressed me. That is why I asked the Ministry to have a similar project. We went back to Italy and acquired all of the machines and tools needed to begin the school. It gives me great pleasure to see many students graduating from the school. Most of these students have found jobs and are working hard to change their lives. Personally, it creates immense contentment to know that young disabled people could find jobs. My contribution to this school didn’t finish there. I wanted to be close to the school’s projects and work for its betterment. In fact, the school keeps growing with new accessories, machines and computers being introduced. Of course, we have a long to-do list and we need time to work diligently. However, the school has been great, thanks to the dedication of everyone involved.
- -Luca Donnini, Italy
-Mr. Luca, why did you decide to get involved in this project?
Simply because I support the idea of helping those in need. When Elsa and Angelo shared the idea with me four years ago, I was happy to be part of the project. Because I have accomplished many things in my life and I thought it was time to help others. In time like this, what can be challenging is finding the right cause and the right people who have the same vision as you and do the right thing simply to support others. I found this quality in Elsa and Angelo since we have been working together for several years. They share a simple principle; they just wanted to help those with conditions have a career that would help them have good life.
-Is it your first time to be here?
Yes it is. During my stay, I have visited Massawa, Keren and Asmara. Eritrea is just an incredible country with various cultures and different religions which are well balanced. I also saw many Italian memories which reminded me of my past with my family. I came here for a short time but I will definitely miss the good people of Eritrea and their beautiful smile. I plan to comeback soon because once you fall in love with something you just can’t stop.
- -Woldemichael Sile, Chairman of the Eritrean Deaf Association
-Mr. Woldemichael, what do you say about this contribution?
What this people are doing is just a humble thing to do. There are many deaf people who don’t have skills they can use to help them lead a good life. This vocational school serves as a center for the deaf people from Asmara and other areas. This opportunity is going to play a big role in providing skillful deaf Eritreans. We have many skilled teachers who are doing a great job. Truly speaking, deaf people are the most skilled and focused people. We are grateful for this kind of contribution and we plan to strengthen our relationship with these people. We hope this vocational school could grow bigger and serve as a school not only to people with hearing impairment but to those who do not have the impairment.