The youngCaritas is just one of numerous services of the Caritas Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone. During our work in here we as volunteers have the opportunity to get an impression of other Caritas services. In the week before Christmas, when we were all tired of paperwork and being in the office, and many offices in the Caritas headquarter were already dark and empty, we decided to visit Casa Emmaus. With cake in our bags the two of us drove by bus, ran up a hill, left the village behind us … Casa Emmaus is very secluded, to make it short. The Caritas Service is for HIV-positive people who can no longer manage their own household. For 24 people, there would be rooms in the former hotel building, but currently only half of the house is occupied.
Casa Emmaus has set itself the goal of enabling people with AIDS dignity to live a life of dignity. Each resident has his own room and his own daily routine. Nevertheless, Casa Emmaus is like a big family, a resident proudly explains as he guides us through the building. Everyone helps according to their own abilities: in the kitchen, in the garden, with the two goats … There is also a wood workshop and numerous musical instruments, so everyone can keep themselves busy according to their own desires and preferences. The residents come together for their meals and for a coffee break in the morning.
Keep yourself busy – the more we talk, the stronger gets the impression that the goal of most projects is just to make time pass away. With the current drugs AIDS is no longer a deadly disease. In case of house Emmaus the consequence of the didease is that the affected can no longer live independently. Expressing it directly and hard – they are waiting to grow old and die, most of them have very few social contacts outside the house or work. That’s why, after the coffee break, we cut hearts and stars out of paper, with which we decorate the reception area, so a morning has passed quickly. In the summer, the residents make holidays at the sea side or plan trips to go swimming in the village, to be not trapped always behind the same walls, no matter how beautifully designed.
Before we say goodbye, we were invited to lunch, which was freshly cooked in the house. Everyone wished us each “buon appetito” and I think they were happy about our visit. Around 25 people are infected with the HIV virus in South Tyrol every year. All those affected are still confronted with prejudice and exclusion, which is why Casa Emmaus is a safe island for those affected. Therefore the employees of Casa Emmaus also do a lot of educational work. School classes and interested groups are invited to take a closer look at the topic, to talk with the affected and then to counteract prejudices in their environment. You can not get infected by body contact, the affected can live an almost normal life and are just as human as everyone else.
With this message in our luggage we make our way back, with mixed feelings.
~ Anna et Käthe youngCaritas Tyrol du Sud