Friday afternoon: Onna

Arriving back on the G8 Summit compound I find Gordon back in our accommodation in a final meeting with Australian PM Kevin Rudd. Both have been very committed to the climate change agenda here and are talking about next steps.

As the summit has now finally ended we are all packed up and ready to go. First Gordon wants to visit a local village that suffered terrible damage and casualties in the April earthquake, and to hear first hand from a British resident of her experience. We travel just half an hour to the small village of Onna with a population of only 350 people of whom 40 lives were lost that terrible night.

With Joanna outside her temporary accommodationJoanna Griffith-Jones is welcoming and friendly and keen to share her story and explain how everyone is coping. She is a violinist with the local Abruzzo Symphony Orchestra (which Bocelli now sings with when he is in Italy). We meet her Italian musician husband and his many neighbours and close friends including the chair of the Onna Restoration Committee.

The scenes we witness are of utter devastation in what was once a beautiful, quiet, historic village of stone buildings, little squares and peaceful parks. What we see now are piles of rubble which were once people’s homes.

Joanna shares with us the moment she and her husband woke to the tremors and made their escape from an upper storey using bed sheets in the dark as both the stairs and the electricity were gone. They met their closest friends and immediate neighbours also unharmed, and from there the rescue of others began.

The village of Onna, PA copyrightToday, they are all living close by in a caravan and will stay to see the village rebuilt and eventually move back. The villagers have all been courageous and resilient. They share great camaraderie and talk with each other about their experiences and feelings. Gordon and Joanna talk of what happens next as more stable temporary accommodation is being built ready for the autumn, and plans are in hand for restoring the village in the years ahead.

After we leave, Gordon and I both agree that we share nothing but admiration for the stoicism of the Onna community and their love for their village and belief in its future. We are now on our way back home and all the more grateful after our visit to see and cherish our own family.

The G8 in Italy has proved a positive visit developing stronger relationships with other countries and making steps forward on the economy, global health and climate change. All the Italians we have met during our stay were as warm and generous as ever.

This is my final blog for this trip. Thank you for following – Ciao



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