One man takes a country’s crisis into his own hands? That seems to be the way of Mauro Merlino, an Italian activist best known for his past stories taking on the justice system and winning a freedom of speech case against Equitalia, an ordeal that dragged on for years. Fast forward to these days, his focus is not on politics or bureaucracy, but that of bringing smiles to the faces of earthquake victims of Italy.
Although Merlino hails from Modena, an area in Northern Italy known for olive oil and ceramics, hundreds of miles South in Central Italy regions of Amatrice and Rieti chaotic circumstances still prevail. These areas had been previously shaken by horrifying earthquakes in August and December of 2016, destroying many established towns. To this day, homes, churches and tourist attractions still lay crumbled and families displaced. Reconstruction efforts have been slow combined with the factor that reputable online stories suggest million of Euros had been pledged and gone missing, raised by SMS text for the victims back in August, who have yet to see said money.
Unlike America who has the help of military and governmental organizations such as FEMA and Red Cross, in Italy, there seems to be a breakdown of how and when help will come. Merlino decides in these circumstances to put on a Spider-Man suit and cheer up children and families. Perhaps the sight of a superhero can bring smiles to children. He says, “I cannot rebuild the crumbled homes but perhaps I can touch a heart and make a smile. This initiative, with the help of others, can spread solidarity to the victims of the earthquake and make a difference. With attention to this area, we can get help and assistance to the people who need it most. “
Merlino has had over thirty articles in Italian newspapers and online journals since August, and even now many in the USA about this organized effort. Recently printed articles in early March in the Italian Tribune and online at The Local and New York Post article talk about how Merlino walked over 300 miles to the Central Earthquake region. He indicates, “It’s a small drop in the ocean, but with every drop comes a small ripple.”
There is now an American based fan site for the activist, MauroMerlino.com. Ironically this real-life superhero has never been to America. Thanks to the glory of social media, news has reached the millions of Italian Americans in the USA who appreciate the fact that perhaps one man can take on a whole country peacefully and in small steps.
For more information please visit the site: http://mauromerlino.com/