Saturday, April 01, 2017

Networking with the crazy woman
ARCI Pistoia
I have had not a one normal human interaction this week. First of all, Jack Douglas gave me a pretty daunting challenge to get myself into an association and to present ourselves to an Italian Rotary Club in the hopes that we could get a grant to vastly improve the futures of many African refugees. 

After asking around, it has become clear that Italian Rotary Clubs are very exclusive professional groups with right leaning political tendencies who probably are not at all interested in doing anything that would benefit refugees; moveover, you can not just show up to one of their meetings without an invitation.

Cut to me giving a twenty minute speech about my dilemma not once, but a total of ten times -- before each of my English classes at Fabio Perini, the Italian converting line manufacturer for paper making. I was convinced that one of my students would have a cousin or a hairdresser or a lover who is in a Rotary Club. You will think I am making this up, but the last person to enter the last class during the tenth time I made my pitch said that he thought he could hook me up. He turns out to be the organizer of the Lucca Marathon. I then in flurry of desperate phone messages got a meeting with Alberto at ARCI Pistoia. ARCI is where I would work if I had the possibility of using my Social Work license in Italy, which I don't. They are the hippiest, anti-establishment, of delightful grass roots organizations. F asked me what I thought the team would be like if they were stoned, and I told him I didn't have to engage my imagination very much to picture that. At all. 


Last night we drove out to their offices. We had to wait half an hour, which is like thirty seconds in Italy, but unfortunately it was the end of a stressful day where I had to do physical therapy on Paul's arm which was wrenched from washing dishes at Satura restaurant non-stop (he still hasn't gotten paid, and the kitchen chief yells at them constantly!) I taught him the rolling massage technique and gave him the clothing that Geraldine donated for him, including several suits and at least a dozen dress shirts. Anyway, during that time all of the Italian language drained out of my body and I was left with scribble scrabble for the meeting. I thought we were waiting for just Alberto, but we also were meeting with the head of the whole organization who is a kind of intimidatingly frank woman, named Silvia. But I liked her. At the end of the meeting, I friended them all on social media because I think that maybe photos will speak better than my Italian in convincing them about how commited we are to the cause. Silvia told us that the association has complete financial transparency and that we can become members easily with an application form and a 10 euro dues payment. She is happy to present at a Rotary Club, but they have absolutely no contacts with any and thinks I will have to be the one to convince them. 

me, having all the Italian drain out of me.

None of this is normal. 

And once again, when I explained that our group members have to beg to survive as outlaws, despite the fact that they are legal and have Italy's protection, they did not dive into action or have any real reaction. They are immersed in the world of saving young refugee women from a life of prostitution and abuse, and begging for a living doesn't seem like a big deal to them in comparison with the stories they hear on a regular basis. Also they pointed out that the NYT reporter won't be here until around June, if she keeps to coming before the municipal elections, because they have been moved back. 

Today I am anxious because T has invited five of her friends from school over and has asked me to do a presentation whereby I invite all of them on a week long vacation in July to the Amalfi coast. Not kidding. I have to watch five hours of Italian reality tv to prepare, and it is going to be a lot of estrogen any way you slice it. 

Peace's mother called me out of the blue to ask me for the Italian word for ladder. I told her and then called her back ten seconds later. Good thing I did since her dear husband wanted to use it to climb up on their roof to attach a clothes' line. I told her that I was working too hard to get him a job to have him die now. That is why we have to buy them a drying lack and deliver it ASAP. Also their laundry machine that they found on the street and spent a day's worth of earnings to transport to their house does not work. They never tested it. They want us to fix it. Magically, I suppose. Also I still need Courtney to convince her neighborhood committee to give her a second box of bats to bring to Cool's house to resolve their dire mosquito problems. As I said, not normal. At all. 

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