My name is Alessandro Raponi. The first time I collaborated as a volunteer with Mani Tese was in December 2011 and I was sixteen. In a few months I will be twenty-two and I can say, with the distance in time, that at that moment of my life I just needed to feel useful and believe in something.

The school, after two severe but exciting years of high school, had become a flat and sterile time of day, thanks to teachers who mercilessly contributed to destroy the classical high school. I was in Feltrinelli as a customer and Franca, the then contact person, asked me to participate in the Christmas initiative “Much more than a gift”: I accepted and three years ago I became the contact person!

What has always scared me in life is getting bored and I have always preferred to keep busy. Volunteering with Mani Tese, in that period of my life, was saving. Moreover, I have always been moved in my actions by a profound need to eliminate inequalities that I could not tolerate, like when I was five years old and I could not understand why a child, of my same age, was on a step asking for alms: it was unfair and I asked my mother to take him home with us to help him, but obviously the matter was a little more complicated!

Margaret Mazzantini in one of her books wrote “nobody saves himself alone” and I think that in life we must all be ready to help, go to meet someone and save him. How you do it, then, is secondary: the important thing is to act. Collaborating with Mani Tese and helping the populations of the southern hemisphere has been and still is my way: probably because that child who was moved by his peer abandoned in the street still exists!