You may seriously want to sit down for this one. We bought Mr. Clean sponges, roach traps, tarps, mould remover, cleanser, masks, gloves, paper towels, all of the cleaning supplies you could possibly imagine and set off for Tina and Job's house in Montecatini.
Things got a little dicey when I called for a meeting of the residents of the house. What I didn't understand was how little they could understand my English. I spoke too fast, but I believe that they understood every word. For a New Yorker, I was actually speaking very slowly, I swear. Anyway, I thought I was outstanding. DNC level smackdown with balloons and standing ovations, drop the mic kind of outstanding. I overestimated. After the meeting, Job's "brother" who is not a blood relation, but just a guy named Derwood from his same village, refused to give me the number of the landlord. In my speech in which I said that we did not want anything in return for fixing their entire house except the knowlege that Tina's baby would come home to a clean safe place, I used the word contract instead of letter of hospitality and this freaked him out. I don't know exactly why.
In my speech I also demonstrated the efficacy of the Mr. Clean sponges:
I told them that I really wanted them to consider my suggestion of having guests pay for the privilege of staying there and to start paying a little rent each week so they don't end up always owing months of back rent at a time. I asked them to consider that with a new baby in the house, the lack of electricity or water could be potentially deadly and that would be on their heads.
What I didn't know is that the Italian landlord and his Albanese wife are these lovely people who let dozens of African refugees use their address and ask only 450 euros a month in total for a three bedroom house. I didn't know that Tina is the only woman in a house of six men who expect her to do all of the cleaning and cooking even though she is nine months pregnant. I also didn't know that she had to spend her own money on most things because the men would often not chip in and not agree to pay the rent on time.
Job and the gang were going to Stanli's Nigerian wedding ceremony, which while not legal here, is traditional and they did not want us to clean without them so they insisted they come back tomorrow when they will get a team of people from their church to help us.
F went up and talked man to man with Derwood and explained in his super slow L.A. kind of way that we had only good intentions and he got the man, who Tina had said was wicked for no good reason, to release all the numbers, skype info, and email. I wrote to him and he made an appointment with me via a text filled with smiley faces. Hopefully he will get Tina the hospitality letter she needs to get residency and a permanent health card and it will be a trust and hope building exercise, albeit an expensive one, for everybody.