Saturday, April 15, 2017

The hard way  
...also known as Italian style.
I woke up early on Good Friday, which was a day off work, because a friend of a friend who has been giving the babies some of her left over baby food proposed that she could take me to the civic association where her niece works. Neither of us had high hopes for getting organizational help, but I have learned not to say no to people who have the desire and openness of mind to help the refugees. I waited for her for half an hour at the agreed upon location, but the weather was nice and she has a small child, so it was expected and not a problem. When Patrizia showed up, she was just how I imagined her. We chatted like old friends in the waiting room. When we went in to tell the story of our group members, the man who listened to us looked grim. He said among other things that he didn't believe many key elements such as the money that many of our group members were paid off to waive the right to Italy's protection. If I understood him correctly, he said a few offensive things about not believing anything I learn from people who go to the Nigerian churches. He also offered to print out my group members' histories that he received from our mutual friend who is the director of the catholic charity Caritas in Lucca. I declined. The whole time I was thinking about how I had more and more empathy for Lorena Bobbit. This was not surprising. The surprising part was when Patrizia burst in to tears because she felt so moved by our group members' plight. By the end of the day she had procured the name of a lawyer in walking distance of my house, in case Emmanuel needed more representation. 
On the way out in the morning, I bumped into Ehis who begged me for help with his ear pain. He wanted drops from the pharmacy, but I gave him money for my natural ear pain remedy and called his sister-in-law Jennifer to give her the recipe. I also bumped into Ali who, like Emmanuel, was rejected by the refugee commission, but I later learned from Job that the plan for guys like Ali is to survive five more years on the street without getting put on a plane to return to Nigeria because then you can automatically have the opportunity to ask for political asylum for a second time. 
We took the baby food from Patrizia and the bags of stuff we picked up from Marina, Geraldine, Karin, Lu, and Valentina and dropped it off for Ezekiel's baby who is due in a few weeks, Freedom, Wisdom, and baby Peace. 
Wisdom showed off his walking skills. I told Cool about some possible work interviews and a moving gig he could work two weeks time. Luckily, Jennifer showed F that she had mistakenly hung the bat house we got them to attract bats to eat all their many mosquitoes inside the house instead of outside, as I had instructed. 
Next we went to Job and Tina's house. Unfortunately, their nasty landlord came to harass them about everything from the placement of their furniture to her suspicion that they have extra people living with them. Well, she's not right about them having twenty. That was a bit of an exaggeration. She asked if we lived there too because she did not figure out that I am the woman she has yelled at on the phone because she passed off the apartment as in perfect condition when there are problems with the windows and the roof from the beginning. From that time, I swore not to get involved with her. Tina muttered under her breath the whole time -- things like, this woman is an idiot and can't she see they are white? Good times. When the landlord left, Tina realized she had paid a bill from Emmanuel's house instead of her own and that they weren't going to make the deadline. It was a stressful afternoon. When I showed her the bags of stuff from the mothers at the schools, she was able to completely change back into a good mood and enter the present moment. It was like a study in transcendental meditation. I thought, I have a lot to learn from this woman. 
At night, Francesco, Emmanuel's lawyer in the south called me and assured me that he would write the statement for Emmanuel's new request for protection. He told me to send him all the paperwork we had, and that I could accompany Emmanuel to the police station to try again next Thursday. He said that Caritas lawyers didn't want to write the letter because they wouldn't get paid by their association to work on strategy, which is paramount to entering uncharted waters. I was very cheered by the fact that he kept his promise of calling me, despite the hour and the fact that it is the start of a holiday weekend. If it doesn't work, Emmanuel will have no right to work and will have to keep begging for another two years, during which time he will have no hope of seeing his son again.
How can you refuse this face anything?
We ended up paying for the taxi cab that Gabry, the guy from Romania who begs downstairs from our house, needed to go to Germany to buy to start the next chapter of his life. Fingers crossed! 

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