Known as "Marathon for solidarity", it is an international online conference of world-famous gynaecologists and paediatricians held today, Saturday 15 May, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., promoted to help the Shanti Ashram Centre in Coimbatore, India, and sponsored by Università Cattolica and the University Centre for International Solidarity.
The aim is to raise €60,000 for Shanti Ashram, a health and social centre that, through a food bank and medical assistance and training facilities for female entrepreneurs, assists 50,000 children and their families in the villages around the city of Coimbatore, where the centre is located, in the state of Tamil Nadu, in the far South of the subcontinent.
The idea for this extraordinary solidarity initiative in the year of the pandemic came from Professor Antonia Testa, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Università Cattolica, Rome campus, who two years ago, during a trip to India, met Dr Kezevino Aram, paediatrician and President of the Shanti Ashram.
«In January, Kezevino contacted me with a request for help – Professor Testa recounts. 'After eight months of lockdown' – she told me – 'we have exhausted all our resources, I have never seen so much poverty.' Since Kezevino foresees that the situation will not be unblocked before June 2021 (she did not foresee such a disastrous situation in May), she is looking for the economic coverage to cope with the healthcare and treatment work for at least the next five months, amounting to about €60,000». «In order to help her – Professor Testa continues – I decided to involve colleagues and companies in a 'gynaecological marathon for solidarity', a virtual event of about 10 hours dedicated to dialogue and sharing experiences. About twenty colleagues, experts in the field, have embraced the project in order to support the development of Indian communities in this pandemic crisis, further aggravated by the exponential increase in infections and deaths in India since the end of February».
The conference (in English) was introduced by the report of Professor Salvatore Mancuso, former Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Università Cattolica, on the 'history of the placenta', addressed to adolescents to relate the scientific and human side of motherhood and birth. The conclusion of the marathon was entrusted to the Rector of Università Cattolica, Professor Franco Anelli.
Thanks to sponsors and a solidarity race through crowdfunding, the sum of about €40,000 was reached. Then today a great and unexpected surprise. Professor Testa received a phone call from Cardinal Konrad Krajevski, the Papal Almoner, who told the teacher that the Pope has decided to donate the remaining part to reach the collection target of €60,000, which will enable Shanti Ashram to continue its assistance to the population.