Cortenova is a village in the province of Lecco, surrounded by forested rolling hills which provide a backdrop for a melodious concert of bleating sheep, tinkling bells, barking dogs, chattering shepherds and crowing cocks, which awaken the countryside every morning.
This place, unknown to many, gave rise to an initiative that has become an inexhaustible source of love, friendship and sharing.
Between 1991 and 1995, Antonio Melesi, a large-hearted and innovative mayor of Cortenova succeeded in mobilizing the entire village for the cause in the Balkans, then ravaged by war, death, hatred, genocide and ethnic cleansing. From Cortenova all kinds of aid were regularly sent to the suffering region. This part of the Cortenova history cannot as yet be consigned to archives, being the heritage of a political culture open to the future.
After all these years Cortenova remembers the ongoing solidarity put in motion by its generous inhabitants.
Cortenova perpetuates its historical memory of that conflict with the publication of A DIARY FROM SARAJEVO, written by Dubravka Ustalic, a refugee from Sarajevo, who was adopted, welcomed and loved by the entire village where she remained for nine years.
This diary is packed with sentiments, fears, hopes, the separation of families and many "WHYS" caused by the war events.
It is a legacy that a mother wants to beqeath to her child so that it may value and respect its own and others' lives. It contains the notes of a refugee who, separated from her husband by the Balkan War (1991-95), was forced to flee with her son Arin from their bombed house and found refuge in Zagreb. The Rehoboth Foundation, named the ‘Croatian Section of the Italian Caritas’ at the time, came to their aid with the Distance Adoption Project. As her adopter, Providence chose Gabriel, the son of the Cortenova mayor, Antonio Melesi. Dubravka entrusted her diary to the Melesi family after strong bonds of affection were created between them. Now this diary has become a valuable educational tool thanks to Antonio Melesi, a visionary dreamer, leader and believer in the most sacred of human values.
Many attended the official presentation of the book. In addition to the inhabitants of Cortenova, there were mayors from the neighboring villages and towns, the parish priest and the young generations who follow in the footsteps of these pioneers of brotherhood. New emotions and new dreams for future projects.
I wish to thank Mr. Antonio Melesi and his family for allowing me to actively participate in the presentation of this book and an opportunity to relive - in an atmosphere of conviviality, emotions, memories, and dreams - a past still present.
The seeds sown by the Cortenova inhabitants continue to bear fruits.
My special thanks go to the International Association of Scouts at Cluses, France, which, every year, has been sending several trucks of various aid to the Rehoboth Foundation in Zagreb: food for adults, infants and children, jams, Nestle chocolates, clothing, hygiene products, medical equipment and other – all of excellent quality. Their trucks are always accompanied by volunteers who take part in the distribution and verify the real needs of the people for whom the aid is intended.
Our beneficiaries include associations, orphanages, children's homes, kindergartens, Sisters of Mother Teresa, public canteens, institutes for drug addicts and handicapped children, the Roma, recovery homes for minors, flood victims, refugees, asylum seekers as well as hospitals in the most deprived areas of Croatia and Bosnia.