Her story reads like a fairytale: from her native town of Riccione on the Adriatic Sea, Martina Colombari moved to Milan at the age of 17, won the Miss Italia pageant in 1991 and shot to fame literally overnight. Model, actor and TV host, Colombari is well known as the other half of Italian football manager Alessandro Costacurta for the past 15 years. While the Italian public is no stranger to her name, not everyone knows that, for over a decade, Martina Colombari has been an active volunteer and ambassador for a charity called Fondazione Francesca Rava – N.P.H. Italia Onlus.
It all began at a charity event for the Francesca Rava Foundation at the La Scala Theatre, where she had a chance to get to know the organisation. The acquaintance turned into an important friendship, and Colombari not only became an ambassador of the charity organisation, but a fully committed volunteer.
What motivated you to get involved in charity?
There’re lots of things which we can see and which tell us that there is something wrong with the world, and I have decided to do something about it. Ten years ago, I started doing charities, with the Fondazione Francesca Rava.
We have to realise that, if we want to change the world, we have to first change ourselves. As change is simply inevitable, and we must start with ourselves. We have been brought to this world, and we have to make ourselves useful in this life – not just by living for ourselves, but by helping others. In fact, helping others has to become part of our lives. We all have our daily lives, our jobs, and so on, but helping others should become part of it.
Can you describe your work with Fondazione Francesca Rava in Haiti?
For me, just to represent something is not enough, I have to learn how to do it. I have been going to Haiti every year for the past decade. I witnessed the tragic aftermath of the earthquake which claimed 230,000 lives. I learned how to raise funds, speak both in public and in person with locals as well as institutions, and make this a full commitment in my life. In fact, to do charity work, we have to open our eyes, our hearts, and sometimes even our wallets!
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Do you think that charity work becomes more effective with an ambassador?
As a public figure, I had the chance to call the world to action and help Haiti by having photographs taken, doing interviews, making sure the pieces get published. I can reach a lot of people, but I also need to be credible, so it is fundamental that I see through every project to its completion – which of course gives me great satisfaction.
In addition to your annual visits to Haiti, where schools, medical centres and hospitals have been built thanks to the Fondazione and many contributions, you have also worked closely with the charity organisation to raise funds for rebuilding infrastructures following the earthquakes in central Italy in 2016, can you tell us more?
It was incredible to see the efforts and results of the support given to the local communities. In Umbria, new schools were reconstructed in less than a year for children to go to school again. We need to teach our children the importance of helping others and get involved in charity work. Everyone has a right to a dignified life. We have no time to lose.
About the Francesca Rava Foundation:
Fondazione Francesca Rava – N.P.H. Italia is an independent, non-political, non-profit charitable organisation whose mission is to help children in need. The Foundation is the Italian branch of N.P.H. (Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos - Our little brothers and sisters), a charity founded in Latina America in 1954. It also represents in Italy St. Luke Foundation, a Haitian organisation. The Foundation financially and operationally supports all of their projects through children sponsorship, fundraising, volunteers and educational programmes, as well as many outstanding projects. The St. Damien Pediatric Hospital - funded by the Foundation and built on italian technical project - was the centre of the international relief efforts after the 2010 earthquake, with 10,000 patients assisted in less than 3 weeks; nowadays cares for over 80,000 children every year, is a centre for professional training for haitian doctors thanks to italian volunteers from outstanding italian hospital twined with Francesca Rava Foundation.
Follow and support the Francesca Rava Foundation (@fondazione_rava)
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