Thursday, March 24, 2016

What? No? NOooooo!  
I got mad at adorable, pregnant Tina. She went behind my back to the police station to get her stay permit by means of a hospitality letter written by some friends who said she could crash with them for a short time. I had spent countless hours getting her a lawyer through the catholic charity, who, in turn, had worked tirelessly to find her a clean place to live and take care of her documents for her. I felt embarrassed and did not know how I would go back to the director of the charity and the lawyer to tell them that she was rejecting their help. I had noted that both the women of the group were a bit hostile and distant at the meeting. I, for my part, had been so exultant at having finally found Italians who wanted to acknowledge the existence of the Nigerians with stay permits but without any help to exist such as health cards, job training or placement, or even money to buy food or pay rent. The only attention this group gets is from police who give them tickets or threaten to arrest them or send them back to their country for begging on the streets. 
In my unfilteredness, I told everyone in the group that things like not telling me who are related to each other by blood --like the brothers which different versions of the same last name, Emmanuel and Job-- and who is going to the police station to file documents that go against the documents that I am getting filed on their behalf is counterproductive and also a little infuriating. I told them that I spend half my days making phone calls for them and that I can't do my job if they are not honest with me. They told me they wanted to come together and meet with me in person. I took everyone out for coffee. Tina would not even look at me. I just waited her out. I told her that I did not understand why she was this upset about the catholic charity's rule that she sleep without her fiancee at the shelter for women temporarily. It is not nice at all to stay separated at night, but since she lives in a slum and her partner has to return to Nigeria for a month without her to take care of his sick father, wouldn't it be nice to stay somewhere clean where people could help her and she would not have to be on her feet all day begging for rent money? That is when she told me what she was scared about.
Some people from her church, including her pastor, told her that if she gets care from the catholic charity that charity will have proof that she is impoverished, does not have a home, and that her partner does not have a job which could be grounds for social services to take away her baby from her and possibly put it up for adoption. I was so ashamed that my face got hot and I cried. I had no idea. I promised I would not pressure them to take any help they did not want or run any risks they didn't want to and I listened to her plan. It was a crazy plan, but it could work. She has friends who could give her the letter she needs to get the permesso renewed on her own and then her pastor will help her pay half her security deposit if she finds a cheap house and I can get Job, the baby's father, a job. And that is a big ask. 
I had several heart attacks and lost a full night's sleep before calling back the catholic charity who still don't know that she has decided not to take them up on their offer. I think the director and the lawyer are really good people who want the best for my group, but I don't know how social services enters into these situations or how they make their money so I am not in a position to guarantee anything. The director told me she would have a Nigerian woman call Tina to talk to her about how it is to stay with them. She did -- and the kicker is that the Nigerian woman told Tina not to accept the help if she had any other choice.
 I was supposed to do telephone lessons today but I had to field about two dozen incoming calls from the group and the charity. Some of the calls came in while I was out at the mercatino buying Jennifer her wedding bouquet. The lawyer has helped a lot. Paul got his permesso renewed today and they even got a permesso for Jennifer who is getting married on Saturday and whose baby is due in just one month. They also got Job his permesso which will allow him to fly home to see his father. I had promised Emmanuel that I would try to get the lawyer to help him to and I don't know if she will still want to help if the pregnant ladies decide to reject their offer of shelter. . . It will be an interesting test of their commitment, I suppose. 
I do wonder how they thought Tina would have gotten her permesso renewed if I had not paid for it and for her passport renewal which cost 65 euros. She had two euros and fifty cents as all of her earthly riches at the time the bills came due. Also how would she have known that the police station might not be a good place to be on Good Friday and to get her health appointment before her health card expired? I shudder to think about it. 
I hijacked F's phone and called his contact who publishes an elegant food magazine to beg her to find dishwashing jobs for the men. She promised me she would come to my house on Easter Monday and so F has to bake the colomba to end all colombas and I have to convince her to get this going so that the babies don't risk being taken away from their mothers. Speaking of mothers, the people in my group call me mother even though I would have had to have been 16 years old when I birthed them. I am like the menopausal Angelina Jolie of the Nigerian community. About eleven people ask T how her day was when she is on her way home from school now.  They are all Nigerian. She has no idea who they are.
Brooks gave me shoes that fit over my swollen toes and I got memory foam orthotics so I should cut a stunning figure at Jennifer Lawrence's wedding on Saturday. God help us all. 

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