Member Spotlight: Opera Messa della Carità, Milan

Photo of canteen

My name is Paolo…

My warm greetings to all the homeless centres across Europe.

I have been volunteering for two years and I am mainly involved in assisting the manager. I commit to my duties here with a lot of passion and the help that I provide, even if it is small, makes me very happy. I know I am just a drop in the ocean, but  a lot of drops together will create the ocean itself.

Since I have started volunteering, the number of guests that comes into the canteen is pretty much the same. We host 100-120 people daily except Saturdays. We are also closed in August. We can say that in Italy there is a common break, so it is very difficult to find volunteers. That does not mean that we leave poor people alone, since there are other centres where they can easily find assistance and their next meal.

The guests are mostly men (80-90%). We do host women and they usually have a separate area in the canteen where they can enjoy their meal, unless they have sons or their husband, in which case they eat all together.

The majority of our guests come from abroad. Almost all of them speak Italian even if it’s just a little. Then you can hear English, French, Spanish which are also comprehensible for us. There are a few cases of African or Asian guests who do not speak or understand any other language. That makes the conversation a bit difficult but not impossible. Because all the guests have been living in Italy, they do speak a basic Italian and Milan offers free courses to learn Italian too.

A typical meal at the OMC consists of traditional food: pasta or rice as a main course, soup, meat and veggies or a cold dish as a second course, fruits, desserts and vegetarian options on request.

According to a Milanotoday article there are 2,608 homeless in Milan.

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