Francesca Matina, a 31-year-old woman from Lampedusa who works in marketing in Palermo, recently had a terrifying and yet beautiful experience of saving lives. Yesterday evening, everything turned out well, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always end that way.
Francesca, along with a friend, jumped into the sea at Tabaccara, a steep rocky wall in Lampedusa, to rescue four out of 48 shipwrecked migrants who had crashed into the cliffs. “I was on the boat with my uncles Giacomo and Felicetta and my friend Gonzalo,” Francesca recounts. “We were about to leave, we had already started to get dressed when we saw this small boat crashing against the rocks. Without thinking twice, Gonzalo and I jumped into the water with life jackets. It was terrifying, but we couldn’t let those people who were screaming and asking for help die.”
Meanwhile, Francesca’s uncles drew the attention of a smaller motorboat that was able to approach the shipwrecked migrants, who immediately clung to the boat. “It was a moment of great commotion,” explains Francesca. “We alerted the Coast Guard and in the end, all 48 shipwrecked migrants, including three children, were saved.”
Francesca continues, “Hospitality is part of our nature. We Lampedusans have it in our blood. But today, I feel panic and anger. People cannot be welcomed in this way, crammed onto Coast Guard boats, dehydrated, suffering, and destroyed by their journey. The truth is that we have always been alone in welcoming migrants fleeing their countries, left without help and abandoned by Europe.”
Francesca tells the details of the rescue without exaggeration. “We are not heroes,” she emphasizes. “We are just human beings who tried to save other human beings in distress. And this time, it went well.”
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