Harvey B. Mackay
What we have done only for ourselves dies with us. What we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.
On January 12, 2010, the city of Port-Au-Prince in Haiti was leveled by an extremely violent earthquake that killed over 200,000 and injured another 300,000. Many of the injured had to have one or more limbs amputated, and many of these were children. Cecilia Corneo, or “Cilla” as her friends used to call her, was a woman from the Italian town of Arona, who lost her life in Port-au-Prince under a collapsing building where she was working as an official of the United Nations Mission (MINUSTAH).
In December 2011, the ONU honored her with the “Dag Hammarskjold Medal” “as official recognition of her contributions towards reaching important goals that are characteristic of the Missions organized by the ONU.”
“Cilla per Haiti ONLUS” non-profit association was founded to honor Cecilia and carry her name as an example of a life dedicated to helping those in need.
The Association has chosen to continue her work in Haiti by having as its main goal providing children amputees with the chance to have a prosthesis.
In recent years, together with the collaboration of the Francesca Rava Foundation, which, among other things, runs the largest Children's Hospital in the Caribbean, hundreds of prostheses have been given to children who lost a limb in the disaster. In addition, twenty-two small cement houses in Citè Soleil, the area of Port-Au-Prince that was struck the hardest, and which was also where Cecilia was working when she worked for the UN in Haiti. A Center for pediatric rehabilitation, named after Cilla, which helps those with disabilities and orthopedic or neurological disorders, was also built here.
At the same time, “Cilla per Haiti” is active in the area around the city of Arona, giving support to various activities such as the Oratory, the “Nonsolodipane” food bank, which distributes about 30 meals a day to the needy, and the women's volleyball team, as well as various cultural initiatives including concerts, theatrical presentations and exhibitions. And, for the last three years, the “Cilla e Caritas per i giovani” program has been helping at-risk and needy children, covering their schooling expenses, books, transportation passes, etc.