Elderly care homes across Europe have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus which has led to the deaths of more than 26,600 people across Italy.
“Some of the elderly who died were our friends and many of the affected residences were ... the sites of our weekly visits,” Youth for Peace said in a statement released on April 27.
With Italy’s lockdown measures still in place, the youth group is seeking to make the Italian hashtag #SalviamoINostriAnziani, which means #SaveOurElderly, go viral.
High school and university students posted photos of an elderly acquaintance with the hashtag and a message of appreciation. They also created a group video from their homes calling for “an alternative to death and isolation” for Italy’s seniors.
Some of these posts were shared on Italy’s Liberation Day, April 25, when Italians marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Milan and Turin from Nazi occupation. Veterans of Italy’s resistance movement have traditionally marked the anniversary with parades across the country.
One person shared a post with a photo of an old man that stated: “They freed us. Now it's up to us. We do not abandon them.”
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The Youth for Peace movement is linked to the Community of Sant’Egidio, a lay Catholic movement centered on peace and helping the poor. The youth group is active in schools and universities to promote solidarity with the elderly, migrants, and the homeless.
As a part of the Save Our Elderly campaign, Youth for Peace has called for Italians to “rethink” institutional nursing homes, and to strengthen home care and co-housing models.
“Every senior has the right to live in a place he can call home. Of these possible solutions, the Youth for Peace want to be promoters and, in the name of an intergenerational alliance, intend to give voice to those who, in the dramatic days of the pandemic, died in silence,” it said.