Everywhere We Go! – San Marino, March 2019 (Donation 72).

ASDEI, San Marino. Sunday 24th March 2019.

After the trials and tribulations of not only finding a charity in Kazakhstan but also dealing with the huge language issues between TASA and our recipient charity in Astana, Our donation in San Marino was supposed to have been a simple and straightforward process. That couldn’t have been further from the truth.

From the outset I faced knockbacks, rejections and dead ends whilst pursuing leads to find a charity that fitted our selection criteria. Countless emails were sent, most were ignored, some were returned with a ‘Thanks but no thanks’ and a few simply referred us elsewhere, such that I felt like I was going round in circles. It got to the point where we started looking at charities in Bologna and Rimini that may have had ties to San Marino.

After a ‘cry for help’ email to the Scotland Supporters Club, we were put in touch with Andrea Zoppis, Deputy Licencing manager and SLO of the San Marino FA. From our first email to Andrea, he was brilliant! He suggested a couple of charities who, for whatever reason, didn’t think our offer to donate was genuine and he finally came up trumps and suggested ASDEI to us.

ASDEI. Associazione Sammarinese Disabili as Esordio Infantile(Association for people born with disabilities) – The association’s aims are to perform socio-educative activates to help disabled people and their families, including teaching skills to help those disabled to live independent lives, organise trips for disabled people, raise public awareness about the needs of disabled people and promote social and cultural integration.

After a few email exchanges that went through our translator, Ella Ida, a Journalist from Agence France Presse in Rome, (thanks to John Daly for putting us in touch), we were finally able to agree that ASDEI would be our recipient charity for consecutive donation number 72.

We arrived at the centre on matchday afternoon to be met by Giuseppina Massara & Roberto Simonelli of ASDEI and lots of children & young adults who use the facility along with various helpers and friends. Also in attendance, was Franco Santi, the Secretary of State for Health & Social Security in San Marino and a TV crew from RTV, San Marino. There were also 3 local teenage girls who came to the centre and did a fantastic job of translating between us all during the visit.

After a brief introduction and lots of (very Italian) hugs, we were invited into the centre to look around the various rooms they use. Our donation is going to be used towards enabling ASDEI to refurbish more of the centre so they can do more with everyone who attends.

We saw their kitchen where cooking skills and how to work in a kitchen environment are taught, the Arts and Craft room where the children are encouraged to express themselves – we were shown a huge book that they had produced about ways to better look after our climate and current environmental issues.

In the dining room area, we were presented with a basket to say ‘thank you’ for the donation. There were 3 bottles of wine, various local sweets and biscuits, a giant Easter egg and a plate that had been specially decorated for us by everyone at the centre. The plate has been safely transported home for safe keeping – I cant say the same for the rest of the items. After leaving the centre, they were quickly dished out and vanished!

We were also shown the computer suite and given an impressive demonstration of how they use specialist programs to help the children learn to spell. The young boy who gave us the demonstration did incredibly well considering there was a dozen or so people stood behind him watching over his shoulder.

When we went back outside, TASA steering group member Dougie Wotherspoon gave everyone a rousing rendition on the bagpipes that everyone loved before our resident Italian language expert, John Daly, made the cheque presentation to Roberto. John had prepared a speech and after being prompted that we were, in fact, in San Marino & not Spain, he quickly switched from Spanish to Italian and made an impressive sounding speech. Of course the introduction in Spanish and prompt had been pre arranged but our hosts found this very funny. As for the rest of his speech, as far as the Scottish people who were there were concerned, he could have been rattling off anything. We didn’t understand a word of it but judging from the round of applause he received at the end, he must have said something right.

After the presentation and pictures, we were invited to have a piece of cake that had been made by the children in the kitchen that morning. I won’t divulge the name of the person who ate at least four pieces but apparently its considered rude to refuse cake when offered!

Later that evening, at half time during the San Marino v Scotland match, Andrea had also arranged for the cheque to be presented again, this time on the pitch in front of the Scotland and San Marino fans. Neil Forbes made the presentation to Roberto Simonelli.

Once again, as in Kazakhstan, Thanks to Siobhan Boyd of the SSC and the SFA Kit manager who arranged and transported another 60 Scotland Supporters Club polo shirts to San Marino for us so we could donate them to everyone at ASDEI. They sent us a picture of them wearing the tops, they look great!

Thanks to everyone who gave up an hour or so of their matchday afternoon to attend. As a charity we really do appreciate those who come along to our presentations to see what we do and where the money we raise actually goes. If you’ve never been to a presentation, you are always welcome – Look out for announcements over the coming months for Belgium, Russia and Cyprus.

All in all, another amazing donation to a wonderful group of people doing fantastic work. As the poster in the centre’s hallway says: “Different… But not Invisible”

Tom Dearie

#Everywhere We Go

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