This photo shows Delia Buonomo in her cafe. From a video on Youtube published to raise funds. Credit: ANSA
This photo shows Delia Buonomo in her cafe. From a video on Youtube published to raise funds. Credit: ANSA

The Hobbit cafe on the border between Italy and France in Ventimiglia has long been known as a place of welcome for migrants. Owned by Delia Buonomo, the cafe offers hot meals to those who have not eaten in days, the chance to recharge their phone batteries, and use the bathroom- equipped with toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, diapers, pad and changing table - without the obligation of ordering anything.

The children have their own corner, which Delia created by collecting used toys. She has become a reference point for those in transit as well as volunteers and aid organizations that give out shoes, clothes and advice in her café and look at documents and seek temporary housing. However, customers stopped entering the bar three years ago. ''This is only because I let everyone in and I help those who need it,'' said Delia, who has been nicknamed "Mamma Africa." ''I have been insulted and boycotted by people who pass by and see an African boy outside or on the balcony. Now I might have to close. I have health problems and continuing is exhausting.'' 

Crowdfunding to save the bar

Over the past few months, there have been insults, attacks and acts of vandalism against the cafe and Delia herself. The isolation and periodic loss of customers have led to a serious economic situation to the point of forcing the owner to put everything up for sale. The final attempt to save this place of welcome on the border between Italy and France is being done through crowdfunding. On the GoFundMe platform, a campaign has been launched to fund the activities of the bar and prevent the diappearance of ''one of the few places of humanity and solidarity still in Ventimiglia.'' 

''Help us to support Delia,'' the organizers say on their website, ''to continue her project of active solidarity: every donation, no matter how small, helps us to buy food, water, and drinks as well as to cover the expenses of the bar.''

Delia's bar, 'a place that resists' 

Ventimiglia continues to be a symbolic location for thousands of migrants. ''They try to cross the French border, to reach family members or acquaitances and to begin living again after fleeing war, torture, and violence to arrive in Europe,'' the organizers continued. ''It is not easy to get across that border after the Chambery Accords, which call for irregular immigrants coming from Italy to be stopped in France and sent back across the border. Some people have lost their lives crossing that border.'' They added that ''this is why refugees stay in Ventimiglia for many weeks, without access to basic services and often subjected to ostracism from the local population. There is a place that is resisting, however: Delia Buonomo's Hobbit bar, the soul of solidarity in Ventimiglia.'' 

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