An African immigrant who arrived in Italy when he was just a child has paid tribute to the elderly man who bought his schoolbooks and helped him study after class.
Massamba, 37, remembered his old friend in a long post he shared on Facebook.
He wrote: “This is the story of Gianni, a good man who helped me when I was little, protected me when I was alone, and bought me books to go to school.”
Massamba was a shy 11-year-old boy when he and his family moved from Senegal in western Africa to the municipality of Gozzano in the Italian province of Novara in 1998.
Trying to get integrated in his new home, he would chat with everyone in the neighbourhood and help them out with jobs.
Once he was helping his elderly neighbour Gianni unload a van when he asked Massamba if he would start school soon.
The boy confided to him that the books were too expensive and he was not sure if his family could afford it.
Gianni then bought all the books Massamba needed before school started and would welcome the boy in his home every day afterwards to help him with his homework and share a pizza.
Massamba told Newsflash: “I wrote this story with all my heart.”
Their friendship lasted until Gianni’s death in 2014.
Massamba was working in Milan and found out about the death of his friend on the day of the funeral.
He immediately left his job and rushed 83 kilometres to the cemetery, but when he arrived the funeral was over.
Massamba said: “The fact that I wasn’t there brings me tremendous pain, I sometimes even dream about it and wake up in tears.”
Massamba moved to Milan to seek a better life after he experienced financial struggles and lost his house, but he never forgot his old friend who he went to visit most weekends.
The only photo the two friends have together was taken just a month before Gianni died and is a treasured memory for Massamba.
He said: “I’ll never meet someone as good and kind as my Gianni again.”
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Story By: Tijana Milikj, Sub-Editor: Maja Mishevska, Agency: Newsflash
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