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Rome Reports

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Diocese of Rome expands family home for people living with AIDS

For 25 years, the Caritas branch of the Diocese of Rome has taken an active approach to caring for people living with AIDS. When it first started,  fear was high, and those infected had few place to turn to. The live-in facility was opened in Villa Glori, in a posh Roman neighborhood. It's not a medical center, but it's a place they can call home.  MASSIMO RAIMONDI Director, Villa Glori Family Home "Our center was demonized.  Neighbors didn't want it there. There was fear then, and there's still some now. It was tough at first, even those of us who worked here were scared.â? Twenty years ago, Massimo Raimondi became a volunteer. Back then,  basic care was provided, but more than anything it was a home for them to die with dignity. Some patients were so far along in the illness, that they would die in just a few months. With advances in treating the disease, people began living longer, and the center also shifted its focus to and became a home.  Now, as the center's director, Raimondi looks after 26 residents. The majority have troubled pasts, including homelessness and drug use. His main goal is give these men and women a family. MASSIMO RAIMONDI Director, Villa Glori Family Home "One of the most common ailments is depression, and this tends to create psychiatric problems. We believe that, there's more to it than just medicine. We should fight this disease with affection: respect for each person and affection.â? The director says their main mission is provide support, and like any other family, stand by them as they seek treatment. The group lives there, it's their home, but medical and psychological services are not provided. Instead, they want to encourage people to get out of the center and interact with others. For the past four years, expansion plans moved slowly. Thanks to a generous donation from a neighboring family, they remodeled a camp house. The residents helped in the process. MASSIMO RAIMONDI Director, Villa Glori Family Home "Not because we couldn't find people to do this job. But, it was more important if they committed themselves. First, to use up their time, but also to make them feel like this is their place, their home.â? This chapel, once a crumbling building, is also part of the expansion project. Pope Francis even donated the bell used in services. In September, residents move in to the new pavilion, which will also allow them to house three more people.  Once they've settled in, a third part of the expansion process will begin. The abandoned building will eventually become a daycare center for people with Alzheimer's.  RCA AA JM -PR Up: YJA