(Vatican Radio) Elderly residents of an Italian town hit by a devastating earthquake are to receive help from a Catholic lay association.
The Sant'Egidio Community has launched a project in Amatrice to provide a support centre to assist the elderly population and to welcome back senior citizens who evacuated the town following the deadly quake on August 24 which claimed the lives of nearly 300 people.
A protocol, signed today by the organisation and the Town of Amatrice, aims at helping elderly residents to return as best as possible back to their ordinary way of life.
The mayor of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi, stressed "the importance of the project in a situation that remains very difficult".
The project will facilitate the return of those residents who fled to housing units in the wider province of Amatrice, as well as setting up a meeting place for senior citizens in the town.
According to data from January last year, 50 percent of Amatrice's 2,657 population were over 65–years-old, including 669 people over the age of 90.
Sant'Egidio, which has been helping the reconstruction of the town since the 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit, reports that many older people have lost everything including homes and friends. However, they are reluctant to move away to the makeshift shelters set up by the authorities, clinging on instead to what remains of their homes, gardens and animals.
The Community of Sant'Egidio is lay-led and dedicated to evangelisation and charity throughout the world. Enel Cuore, a non profit organisation, will assist in the Amatrice project.