OUR STORY STARTS WITH A DREAM AND AN UNLIKELY MEETING
A solitary, shy boy with big brown eyes arrived in Sampieri from a faraway country. He was special, hungry for life, curiosity, and eager to learn as many words as he could in the new, foreign language he was surrounded by. At the same time, someone with a very different past had moved to a small house along the paths that lead down to the docks. Among the local fishermen, these newcomers both found their first friends. She even began going out on their boats before dawn, offering a helping hand.
Since their first meeting, the boy and the woman from the North spent countless quiet hours under the hot sun trying to catch the meaning of unknown words spoken by the busy fishermen. They soon began to fill these hours by going over the alphabet, the names of different fish, and multiplication tables, adding the scratching of colored pencils on notebooks and the sound of laughter to the din of the workers’ chatter, fishing nets and deck scrubbing.
Every morning, as the dawn broke and the fishermen’s boats returned to the harbor, the boy sat waiting for his Northern friend. As her boat came into town, he would help her off the wooden hull and their day would begin.
As the summer went on, other boys and girls began gathering around the harbor in the morning, with the same deep eyes hiding similar stories of solitude and hardships. The woman on the dock couldn’t help but think, surrounded by these children, that there must be a better way to help.
She dreamed of starting an organization that would make the children’s days and their struggles over books less lonely; a place that would strengthen the bonds between those who came from overseas and those who have been going out to sea to earn a living for generations.
The organization’s aims and programs were sketched out from that first unlikely meeting between the Northern woman and the boy in the harbor. The warmth of that connection and its reception from the wider community was proof that Sampieri had a big heart and could offer comfort and support to everyone.