I've written about the iconic o'panar (click HERE to read) before, the baskets and buckets lowered and raised from balconies and windows in Naples to bring groceries up to apartments. This is the method used to avoid having to climb all those steps again and again--especially helpful for the elderly. But in the last couple of weeks, the o'panar has been used to give, not to receive. The baskets contain food and essentials, with signs that declare...
Per te che non hai, prendi
For you who don't have, take
Chi può, mettere ... Chi non può, prendere
Who can, put ... Who can't, take
Started by an artist in an attempt to help feed the poor during the coronavirus crisis, this "solidarity basket" concept is spreading throughout Italy to other cities and towns, with some corporate support joining the effort.
This idea was started in Naples by street artist, Angelo Picone. As Picone asserts, "This is a special sign of solidarity. The basket is there. It ensures anonymity." At first he yelled to passersby below, "If you can, put something in. If you can't, take something out." Angelo first started by putting out pasta for people to take. Then he noticed some people were leaving pasta. Now, he gets regulars hooking on plastic bags from their own shopping trips so he can share them with the poor.
People all over Italy are now hanging their own o'panar baskets with handwritten signs, sharing what they have with the needy. There are even folding tables being set out by people laden with canned food, pasta, bread, tins of sardines and fresh produce.
"Naples is a city with a tremendous resilience to suffering," Naples Mayor Luigi de Magistris claims. EU statistics show about two out of five risked poverty in 2018 in the city of 2.2 million. A UN study found that a third of the Naples' 15- to 29-years-olds either had no job or had dropped out of school that year. The black market economy thrives, as well as the accompanying crime. Of course, the nature of the crowding of the population in Naples is contrary to keeping social distance--small apartments with multiple residents and narrow streets.
To date, COVID-19 has killed nearly 200 in Naples and more than 15,000 across Italy in just over a month. This "solidarity basket" idea might help some people stay a bit stronger and more nourished to ward off the virus and come out better for it at the other end of this nightmare for Italians.
As for the mayor of Naples, he wants the old Naples back. "I miss it very much... for Neapolitans, it is absolutely against our nature not to hug, not to shake hands."
Pray for Naples. Pray for all Italians. And pray for the world.
--Jerry Finzi, GVI