Annalisa Vassallo

The project: Angeli Per Un Giorno

How was Angeli Per Un Giorno in Palermo born?

The Palermo reality was born in 2004/05 through a Catholic movement, which thought it was necessary to introduce this reality within our city. The aim is to raise awareness among young people by making them dedicate time to a person they do not know. By managing to give a smile and do good to children who live in situations of economic hardship, aiming for social development and greater integration.

In Palermo, this reality arises because unfortunately, we have areas in which there is social and economic poverty where it is often the children who pay the worst consequences. It is right to make them understand that there is another reality outside the one they daily life in their neighborhood or in the closed structures of the family homes. The goal is to make children understand that there is more, something that goes beyond reality, to simply teach them to be able to dream of a better future. 

Can you tell us something about yourself and your experience with Angels For A Day?

My name is Annalisa, I have a degree in community education and I am continuing my studies with a path in pedagogical sciences. I do my job as an educator in a kindergarten and I volunteer with Angels for a day.

I have known Angeli Per Un Giorno for 14 years and my first “angelic day”, so-called by us volunteers, was at Zen in Palermo. Impossible to forget, I still remember the look and the words of the child who was entrusted to me. This has remained for me and will always remain an indelible memory in my memory.

The association of the Angels for a day over time has undergone a structural change thanks above all to a training course for new volunteers that takes place pre-day. Training is necessary given the situations we are going to face. It is important that children are aware of the different realities they will face on the first day. Despite all our motto is that anyone can create angels for one day. And we believe that everyone in our own small way can make a contribution to make this society better.

We know that this initiative is also present in other Italian cities. What are the peculiar characteristics of our territory in comparison with other territorial realities?

Angeli Per Un Giorno volunteering is not only in Palermo but also in Rome, Florence, Milan, and Catania.

Every year there are meetings (this year held electronically due to a health emergency) in which there are comparisons between the various realities. This year we have noticed that in large cities there is greater economic support from the institutions. Palermo, on the other hand, aims to finance itself by organizing charity events. But we also receive great support from small businesses, which have always shown their solidarity.

On a national level there are many realities and much different staff who cooperate, linked by the same purpose, to give something beautiful to children.

What would you like to say to those who do not know your reality to adhere to this?

Usually what I tell these people is that if you don’t participate you cannot understand the expression you feel during these days. Everyone has a specific reason to participate, I was recommended by a friend myself and I didn’t imagine it would become a part of my life all these years.

What I say is “come, live this day and then you are free to do it again or not, because children are able to give love with a look or a gesture and it is an indescribable emotion, it is worth participating, at least once. . “

Also when the day is over you are very tired physically, but it is only at that moment that you realize you are full of joy and love. It didn’t take much to acknowledge that you did well not only to the child you spent your hours with but also to yourself, experiencing an emotion out of the ordinary.

We know that the main focus of Angeli Per Un Giorno is to give children a full day in which they are the protagonists. What do you feel in these “angelic days”?

Angelic days usually take place in May and December and involve about 200/250 volunteers and children.

The goal of this day is that each child has their own “guardian angel”, or volunteers who are often university students and beyond. The boys will dedicate the whole day to him taking care of him.

The days are almost always held in the spaces of speakers kindly made available. The preparation of these lasts about two months, a period in which the staff organizes various activities (in particular team games, which allow interaction between children), usually it is usual to choose a theme for which all the games and other activities will follow this motif.

We remember that the goal is in fact to remove children from their daily context and introduce them to a new reality.

Before being able to take part in these days, the volunteers must participate in a two-hour training course where the organization of the day is explained, but especially how to approach children who live in family homes and who have sensitive economic and social conditions.

Goals 1 and 10 of the 2030 Agenda are “defeating poverty” and “reducing inequalities” and your activities are in line with them. How important is it for you to convey this message to the children who participate in the “angelic days”?

For me it is fundamental, in fact, the days always take place outside the daily context of the child, so as to make the child understand that there is more, this can through the comparison with the angel and the questions that the children themselves pose to the boys. These questions make the child understand the immensity of the society that surrounds them and that they must not stay on the sidelines.

One of our mottos, invented by one of our volunteers during the organization of one of the days is “freedom to dream”. Freedom to dream of being someone, of being what you want outside of the context and economic condition in which you live on a daily basis.

As a spokesperson for this beautiful initiative. What do you think your superpower is? What about the other group members and everything around angels for a day?

One of the powers is above all the union between the young people who carry out this activity because all this would be impossible without the collaboration and support of the various members. Another super-power that we angels kids have for a day is to believe that we can reduce these inequalities that unfortunately exist and give these children a dream of a different life, through games, smiles, and love.