Will they ever return?
It struck me that the sufferings of the survivors would be alleviated if
all the sheds in which they are living could be painted white or
pearl-grey in order to protect them, as far as possible, from the
burning rays of the sun. I mentioned the idea to an overseer.
"We are painting as fast as we can," he replied. "An expensive matter,
however. The Villagio Elena alone has cost us, in this respect, twenty
thousand francs - with the greatest economy."
This will give some notion of the scale on which things have to be done.
The settlement in question contains some two hundred sheds - two hundred
out of over ten thousand.
But I was alluding not to these groups of hygienic bungalows erected by
public munificence and supplied with schools, laboratories, orphanages,
hospitals, and all that can make life endurable, but to the
others - those which the refugees built for themselves - ill-contrived
hovels, patched together with ropes, potato-sacks, petroleum cans and
miscellaneous odds and ends. A coat of whitewash, at least, inside and
out. ... I was thinking, too, of those still stranger dwellings, the
disused railway trucks which the government has placed at the disposal
of homeless families. At many Stations along the line may be seen
strings of these picturesque wigwams crowded with poor folk who have
installed themselves within, apparently for ever.