Italian peace group publishes homeless "Michelin guide"

"Where to eat", "Where to sleep" and "Where to wash" in Rome are among the section headings of a new guidebook for the homeless published by the St Egidio Community in Rome and which has been dubbed the "Michelin Guide for the Poor".

Reuters reports that the new edition of the Guide was presented on Wednesday as promoters warned that the ranks of the have-nots in Italy's capital were growing.

According to Sant' Egidio, which has been nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize for its charity work and international peace negotiations, there are some 7,000 homeless people in Rome.

Some 2,000 sleep on the street, not far from luxury hotels and world renowned monuments like the Forum and the Colosseum. Some 3,000 sleep in charity shelters and 2,000 others in dilapidated abandoned buildings.

"Rome is 'home' to some 10 percent of people living in extreme cases of poverty in Italy," said Mario Marazziti, a founding member of the Sant' Egidio group.

The numbers have swelled after two waves of enlargement of the European Union in 2004 and 2007 relaxed entry requirements for immigrants.

The 176-page guidebook, titled simply Dove ("Where"), tells the poor and homeless where they can get free meals - either at Catholic parishes or city-run centres or mobile soup kitchens, which are marked by a drawing of a small sandwich on the map.

Volunteer organisations where the homeless can either spend the night or bathe - marked by a small shower head on the map - are also listed with instructions on how to get there on foot or public transport.

The guide, now in its 17th edition and which has spawned copycat editions in four other Italian cities as well as in France, Spain and Austria, also contains pages on legal and medical assistance.

"This is such a good guide that we give it to everyone coming out of jail," said Raffaella Milano, Rome's councilwoman for social services.

The authors of the guide, which has an initial printing of 13,000 this year, made it a point to keep Rome's many cultural sites on the map.

"As the poor go from shelter to soup kitchen, we think it is nice and uplifting for them to know what they are passing," Marazzitti said.

Italy's homeless have their own "Michelin guide" (Reuters, 10/7/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
St Egidio Community
St Egidio Guide for the poor

Assisi to revive John Paul II's inter-faith "dream of peace" (CathNews, 5/9/06)
Rome Catholic charities to receive cardboard shelters for homeless (CathNews, 4/11/04)
Catholics stunned by Beslan tragedy (CathNews, 7/9/04)
Pope backs campaign against death penalty (2/12/03)
Rome group set to mobilise world against death penalty (CathNews, 25/11/05)

11 Jan 2007

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