Being a "Dove" during Covid19

Only a pandemic could bring “doves”, the volunteers from Operazione Colomba (Operation Dove), back to Italy. We were forced to interrupt our physical presence with the people we share our life with, which was a painful and unexpected split we could have never thought of.

We have tried in every possible way to transform this pain in hope by being near to the people we usually accompany and protect in the conflicts around the world, we have kept giving them a voice in their nonviolent protest for peace and justice. After all, we are “doves” everywhere we go, and a “dove” cannot simply stare at the needs of the weak, whether they are victims of war, poverty, or of a virus. That is why so many of us chose to act in a different way. We can build peace through solidarity, community bonds and an answer to the urgent matters of a wounded humanity.

Now we have decided to share with you what being a “dove” during Covid19 felt like: people acted in different ways and different contexts, but we were all united by our shared experience on the ground as a Nonviolent Peace Corps.

This is our first story, by Christopher and Anna. The following stories will be published on our Facebook page.

An all-inclusive honeymoon package

We got married on September 28th 2019 in Rossano Veneto, a small village near Vicenza (North of Italy), and we were planning a special honeymoon. My wife Anna would travel abroad to carry out her Universal Civil Service with ‘Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII’ Association, and I would travel with her as a volunteer. Our destination was Bolivia, and we were expected to leave at the end of March 2020.

Why had we chosen this? My wife Anna wished to get involved directly in something practical and after her studies it was finally the right time to do this. As for me, I had first met the Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII in 2010 thanks to my Universal Civil Service in Zambia and thanks to the time I spent as a volunteer in different reception facilities in Italy, which also led me to spend 3 months in Colombia with Operazione Colomba. I felt sure this sort of honeymoon would be very enriching for us as a couple because of the people we would meet  on our way.

We had just started the training for Universal Civil Service when the Covid19 pandemic broke out, so we had to go back home. At the beginning we tried to be positive and we hoped the situation would not last long. However, the number of cases kept increasing and the pandemic got worse, so we realized we could not take our flight to South America. In that period we often wondered how we could contribute to the chaotic situation, then one day we got an unexpected call from a special “travel agent”: a member of Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII contacted us to ask if we were interested in living at the Hotel Royal in Cattolica (a seaside resort near Rimini)  for a period of time. The offer seemed tempting: the hotel was very close to the beach and our room had a balcony with a sea view. The only peculiarity was that the Hotel Royal was hosting people with Covid19 who had been discharged from hospital but could not go home for the period of self-isolation while waiting for negative test results. This meant our duty would be to manage the hotel with 5 other people, take care of the guests inside the hotel without having direct contact with them, and be ourselves in self-isolation for the whole period.

We discussed together and then we packed everything to leave for our exclusive honeymoon. The reason why I accepted this challenge is also linked to my experience with Operazione Colomba in the Peace Community in Colombia. What caught my attention while I was living there is the fact that the people there firmly believe in their values and are ready and quick to act in the most urgent situations.

We have been here for almost 2 months and a half, days fly by as we carry out our duties. We have taken all the necessary precautions and we are doing our best to let our guests feel comfortable. You don’t need really much to make them happier: the ritual coffee break after lunch, a surprise ice-cream, a small chat from the balcony.

Despite the strange situation, Anna and I don’t want to forget that this is our honeymoon, so we try to preserve some special moments on our balcony with a sea view, contemplating the sunset and hoping normality will come back soon.