Italian teacher and activist

Giovanni ErmigliaOn 24 June 1905 Giovanni Ermiglia was born in Sanremo, known as the founder of the N.G.O. ASSEFA.

After graduating from the Cassini High School in San Remo, he graduated in Law at the University of Genoa and then in Philosophy in Turin. In Piedmont, he frequented the intellectual circles of the time and became sentimentally attached to the writer Lalla Romano, who dedicated numerous poems to him. These were recently collected in the book Poesie per Giovanni (Poems for John), published in 2007 and also containing about twenty unpublished poems. Back in Liguria, Ermiglia set aside his forensic activity and instead chose to dedicate himself to teaching, becoming a professor of philosophy.

In 1969, during a trip to the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, he met Shri J. Loganathan and some activists of Bhoodan (literally "gift of the land"), a movement founded in the fifties by Vinoba Bhave. The basic idea was to persuade local landowners to donate part of their land to the poorest farmers in order to alleviate their very serious poverty. Vinoba walked India for 14 years collecting 4,193,579 acres of land (about 1,700,000 hectares). The donated land, however, was largely arid and abandoned for years and the potential beneficiaries did not have the technical and economic means to cultivate it.

Ermiglia had the idea of raising the necessary funds in Italy so that some families of farmers could start cultivating these lands and thus become economically independent. The initiative was a good success and various groups of volunteers were set up to support the Sarva Seva Farms (literally "farms at the service of all"), the rural realities that in India were implementing the Bhoodan movement. In its first years of activity, the association collaborates actively with the Development and Peace Movement and with Sermig, two important voluntary organizations in Turin led, respectively, by Giorgio Ceragioli and Ernesto Olivero.

Ermiglia's commitment to ASSEFA became very intense and stays in India followed one another frequently until the nineties, widening its field of action; in 1995 the various local groups were officially merged into a national N.G.O. called ASSEFA Italia.

In the last few years a long illness slowed down his activity, but it was carried on by many collaborators and friends; he died on 14th January 2004 in his hometown.

His substances were entrusted by will to the Livia Rubino and Giovanni Ermiglia Foundation, created in order to continue his activity.

(source Marco Mauro)

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