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Five Prisoners of War (POWs): Chacko, D’Souza, RG Salvi, and brothers Sharafat Ali and Murrafat Ali. They all escaped from the German prisoner of war camp in Avezzano, Italy, found shelter, and received acts of kindness from residents in the tiny town of Villa San Sebastiano. Their ordeal lasted over a year, often hiding in animal sheds and caves, even in the bitter cold of winter. The Italians smuggled food to them at their own risk. Salvi even climbed up a hot chimney to avoid the threat of being discovered by Germans patrolling the village. The Indians also made deep connections and friendships that continued after the war ended. For example, Salvi and his wife, Hansa, came back to meet and thank his Italian friends. Salvi’s grandson, Samar, was captivated as a young boy by these stories and always wanted to visit the village to meet the people who had saved his grandfather’s life. Nearly 70 years later, in 2010, he reconnected with the descendants of these families. The Salvi family installed a plaque thanking the villagers. It ended with the words, “Without your loving help to Lieutenant RG Salvi, we would not have existed.”

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