The historic town of L'Aquila in central Italy was devastated by the 2009 earthquake. Credit: Caritas/Michelle Hough

The historical town of L’Aquila in central Italy was devastated by the 2009 earthquake. Credit: Caritas/Michelle Hough

Read the original in Italian.

It’s nearly four years since an earthquake rocked the Italian region of Abruzzo, reducing the historical town of L’Aquila to rubble. And it’s almost a year since another earthquake struck the north-east of Italy. Caritas Italy has been working side by side with the affected communities since both disasters.

The Abruzzo earthquake left almost 300 people dead and tens of thousands homeless when it struck in the middle of the night on 6th April 2009

The diocesan Caritas pitched in immediately to provide the people of Aquila with food, clothes and other essentials in the wake of the earthquake. Beyond catering to the material needs, Caritas Italy also brought spiritual comfort to the shattered communities.

Following the initial emergency when it was very much a case of ensuring that people had enough to eat and drink, had a roof over their heads and were able to keep warm in the chilly mountain environment, Caritas Italy turned its focus to rebuilding communities by providing them with homes and also spaces where they could meet and learn.

Over 35 million euro was collected in a wave of solidarity from dioceses from around Italian to help the people of Abbruzzo.  Four years after the earthquake, the work is ongoing and a new centre will be opened on 4th May. It will be home to commercial and training activities and will offer a space for members of the community to gather together.

Over 10 million euros has been donated to Caritas Italy following last year’s earthquake. It is money that has gone towards building 17 social centres which will help unite fractured communities.

Six such social centres will be inaugurated this April alone in various dioceses throughout the north of Italy. With spaces in which to meet and talk and listen it is hoped that communities can slowly heal after the suffering they’ve been through.