Event 2: Reggio Emilia, Italy

When difference divides

Quando la differenza ci divide

Having shown our film to the group at Istoreco, stories, testimonies and reflections were shared . . .


Too many people in the world think war and oppressing others is the answer to everything, even making war in their own countries, blaming others for their own problems.

In Pakistan, there is corruption at the highest level and the powerful elite benefit from the work, poverty and misery of poor people.

My father had land to work on but the landlord took all the profit from it. If he complained, he would be in danger. This can’t be right.

How do we fight this without more violence? Who cares?


Some people might know about the civil war in Sri Lanka that ended in the massacre of Tamil civilians in 2009, but people don’t know that there is still no justice for Tamils. People have no rights, no houses, no land and are treated like slaves. We are like refugees in our own country. It is our duty, the duty of the next generation, to make sure the memory and present identity of our people is not erased and to teach our children the stories, the history.

Following independence in 1948, our people were denied citizenship in their own country. Our books were burned and Sinhala declared the only official language of the country. Many people in public positions were forced to resign because they weren’t fluent in Sinhala. Over 300,000 Indian Tamils were deported to India. Of course violence erupted.

We belong to a Tamil Youth Organisation that now campaigns for the rights of Tamils in a non violent way. There are 10,000 Tamils in Italy, but even here, we are afraid of repercussions if we campaign for the rights of Tamils. Who knows who is here and watching us?

Friendly visitor while diving


Lots of us in Reggio Emilia come from different places in the world but our stories are similar. I come from Guinea where there are over 24 ethnic groups. The main groups are Fulani, Malinké and Soussou. Divisions between the groups have been exacerbated by dictators. The people have been attacked just for being the wrong race or speaking the wrong language.

After elections in 2009, people were demonstrating at stadium, when the military started shooting the population and raping the women indiscriminately. In 2010, the Fulani rep won the election and this was followed by more violence against the Fulani population. My family was killed in front of me and I ran, I ran for 5 years. It was all a nightmare.

Why do people hate one another just because of difference? I hope here in Reggio Emilia, we continue to live peacefully together in friendship and be part of this kind of initiative.

Stephane and Damiano

I came here from Cameroon. I wanted to study here but there were difficulties with language and I felt alone and stressed. And then I met Damiano who is Italian and we became friends. He has been such a great support even though he himself struggles. He told me “If you don’t understand something, go to the teacher and tell him.” So simple, so simple …

Damiano can’t run, he has to move slowly, calmly. He has taught me I don’t have the right to complain. Be proud and be happy with what you have. We share deep moments. He gives me hope. I have to focus on how life is beautiful, learn how to dream.

What you are doing with us now, is a new and practical way of sharing and transmitting experience and history. Damiano is a poet, he understands this. Young people and children don’t always have a critical view from the media or parents. This is an immediate and creative way of communicating.