Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Helpers, big and small
On Sunday I went to the first meeting of Piccoli Aiutanti/Little Helpers. I met the parent who came up with the idea on FB. He and his wife really went all out to host the meeting. He has wanted to teach his son the benefits of volunteer work for several years, but decided now was the moment to get a bunch of like minded parents together and consented to let our Christmas time project be the first one for the kids to work on. We got there on time, which was so not Italian of us that it was clear once again that I am a. not Italian and b. the daughter of a psychologist who had an office in our house. The parents who came were an internationally mixed group and the kids were little bilingual and trilingual and whatever comes after trilingual geniuses. One mom was all about doing the IKEA shopping to get fleece blankets for the kids to cut up into scarves for the refugees. Another mom had a strong New York accent in English, but a perfect Italian accent in Italian. What? Me jealous? Anyway, they couldn't have been lovelier. There was one Italian dad who was super patient with us and so his wife and I translated every so often. The Italian mom translated for the kids, almost all of whom were in grade school and felt most comfortable with Italian. She asked if they were on board with making refugees feel welcome and they all said yes. That was a really emotional moment for me. It just felt good. So we are returning next week to shove all the donations we can in our car. 

Tina and Peace

Today was our celebration of Paul's birthday. He came to the house for the first time. He is still not getting paid fairly at his job. Today he told us he had to close his bank account because they have taken fees of 95 euros since May. He sent home 500 of the 1000 he has earned in the last three months to his sick mother in Nigeria. The rest has gone to pay his inflated electric bill, which we can't settle because he can't have a house contract since he doesn't have residency because he doesn't have an official pay envelope from his job. We made him a box of fancy cupcakes to take to work with him. I know, I know. F made them. Whatever. And we gave him one of the donated jackets. A good, designer one, that fit him perfectly.

Then out of the blue two people I met on FB decided to donate money for the refugees. We made a deal to share photo receipts with them so they can see what their money is going towards, and so now, maybe we have found a way to help Paul a little bit each month. This one lady who dragged a bag of clothes all the way up our stairs said she was "lazy" even though she retired at a young age and just got married and is traveling all over seeing new things. She is donating 50 euros a month! I told her never to say such negative things about my new friend. I mean, good lord! Also my friend Courtney keeps telling me that we are going to get the 150 coats together in time for Christmas, despite the fact that at this moment we only have about ten. 

I am psyching myself up so that I can invade the tents of the Red Cross with the Piccoli Aiutanti donations and the cookies we are making (ok, ok, F is making) and at least hand them off to Moro, the guy from Gambia who lives in there. This weekend we got him an Italian text book and he was happy with it. I also have to decide, depending on the Piccoli Aiutanti parents' vote, whether I can involve the reporter from Il Tirreno in the whole event. This would not be acceptable donation giving behavior, as far as the Red Cross is concerned, but if that guard outside the tent gives me problems, he is for sure getting coal in his stocking. I'll leave it at that.

There is Ezekiel in the background.

I found out the hard way that Maurizio the caldaia/hot water heater repair man doesn't work for his company anymore. Once I finally got an appointment for Cool's house, the receptionist tried to set me up with a new guy. I never know how thorough or racist someone might be when they get sent from a new company so I then had to call my guy on his cell phone and start all over again. I got Maurizio to agree to go work on their house tomorrow.  Ezekiel is now free to travel after his short imprisonment for begging and not having his document on him. I paid him to wash Cool's house with bleach to try to kill all of the mosquitoes that insist on living there like they are doing a stint on Survivor/L'isola dei famosi or some other such reality tv show. That is where baby Wisdom lives, of course, and Stanley's pregnant wife who is due in January. He went to Sweden to work unloading trucks, but has still not started work as far as I know. I don't understand why Cool didn't do the work himself. He is either exhausted or depressed or both. Anyway, Ezekiel has a baby on the way and needs the work so it was a good solution.

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