Bridging the Cultural Divide in Northern Italy
How one Scientologist thanks those who reach out to help him and makes them feel at home in his city.
On a six-month trip to India and the Far East in 1985 in search of spiritual answers, Carlo Piccato found Scientology.
By that time his retinitis pigmentosa—an irreversible degeneration of the retina—had already begun to severely limit his sight.
Now 64, the retired physiotherapist and elementary school teacher, who has been blind for many years, has an abiding desire to help others in spite of everything.
“I am constantly helped by people I do not know and cannot see and I want to do something to reciprocate,” he says.
As he makes his way through the city with the help of his white cane, people give him a hand as he climbs down from a tram or crosses a street. And to each person who reaches out to him he offers a very special booklet—The Way to Happiness.
The booklet was written by humanitarian and Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard, and Piccato describes it as “a simple guide that can help improve human relations. That is why I love to hand it out,” he says.
Turin has become a city of such diverse cultures that to personally thank those who help him, Piccato has learned to greet people in 30 languages.
“In my travels in Africa or in the East, when someone tried to greet me in Italian, it made me feel at ease,” he says. “I want these people to feel welcome in my country, whether they chose to be here or were forced to leave their native country. I believe we can live together and gradually find the harmony we all seek.”
He carries The Way to Happiness in 30 languages in his backpack.
Over the past year, he has handed out hundreds of copies in Italian and booklets in Chinese, Albanian, Serbian, Russian, Bengali, Ukranian, Hindi, Urdu, Romanian and Filipino; in Arabic to Moroccans, Egyptians, Tunisians, Lebanese, Algerians, Somalis, North Sudanese, Syrians, Chadians and Kurds; in English to Nigerians, Ghanaians, Gambians, Eritreans, Ethiopians and Sudanese; in French to Senegales, Malians, Congolese, Cameroonians, Guineans, Togolese, Rwandans and those from Madagascar and Ivory Coast; in Spanish to Peruvians, Ecuadorians, Cubans, Dominicans, Hondurans, Venezuelans, Uruguayans; in Portuguese to Brazilians, Portuguese and Bissau-Guineans; in Farsi to Iranians and Afghans; and in Turkish to Turks, Bulgarians and Macedonians.
Completely sightless, he documents the ebb and flow of the multicultural microcosm of his city by the booklets he hands out. And although he may not see the smiles on the faces of his newfound friends, he knows that they are there.
The Scientology religion was founded by author and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in Los Angeles in 1954 and the religion has expanded to more than 11,000 Churches, Missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 countries.
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