Archive for the ‘road to Rome’ Category
The Vancouver, BC ride is a month away!
A couple months ago this video aired in Italy on a social commentary TV show. I wish it were available in English, but it still seems worth posting as it is (Italian and Farsi with Italian subtitles). This young journalist with Iranian roots poses as a refugee to learn about the Afghans who are taking shelter in and around one of Rome’s main train stations. Though bumpy footage, it’s a great look at very familiar places for us… the square where we regularly go to meet and feed asylum seekers as well as a look at their makeshift “housing” near the labyrinth of a station.
The producers really do a great job of book-ending this “undercover” investigation with very brief footage of the unrest in Afghanistan and this thought by the journalist, “In their place, I would have left, too. What about you?” Unfortunately, most people who respond to refugees with anger or disdain just lack any reasonable understanding about why or what they’ve fled.
In the middle there are some great mini-interviews with the guys sharing about why they personally chose to leave, how they traveled, and what they hope for in the future.
A colleague in Greece pointed out an eye-opening video on children in Afghanistan on his blog. Brett’s summary is so good I’m “borrowing” it (thanks, Brett!). It’s good to remind ourselves of the desperation that continues to drive people out of that area of the world.
Despite the lack of resources for refugees in Athens, they are often the lucky ones. They are not in Afghanistan. They got out. They had savings to spend, or perhaps a house to sell, in order to afford the costs of travel. Here’s a revealing video clip on the situation of some of those who have remained: Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) – refugees who have fled their homes, but lack the resources to flee the poverty, violence, and despair of their nation. Here’s one telling quote from this Al Jazeera report:
‘The UN says Afghanistan is the worst place in the world for a child to grow up.’
It’s no wonder families will risk everything (their possessions, their savings, even their lives) to reach Europe… so that their kids might have the hope (yes, merely the hope) of a future – a hope which is no longer present in Afghanistan.
Many refugees and immigrants live in and around the train stations in Rome… stuck between systems, waiting for another option, trying to decide what to do next. But this week reports emerged of 100 people (including 24 Afghan children) living in the sewer below those same stations.
Click here to read the BBC’s report.
You know how a strong smell can trigger memories — transporting you to a different place in time? The weather has been doing that for me. Suddenly it changed. Overnight we went from a near-constant sweat to chilly nights and very pleasant days alternating with sun and rain. Fall is in the air!
A year ago yesterday we landed in Rome, full of expectations and unknowns. I think the weather was a tad warmer, but maybe that’s just because we’ve acclimated. Stumbling off the plane we were met by a man with our name on a sign who took us to an apartment we had rented for three months, sight unseen, via the internet. We were thrilled when we finally found a grocery store in that neighborhood, and then we almost washed our clothes in fabric softener because of our illiteracy. Sometimes we would get nervous just going outside, wondering what kind of conversations we’d have to blunder through. Our worldly belongings basically fit in five suitcases. Language school started, and we were so tired at the end of each day. Survival was the name of the game. We felt quite alone but eager to begin.
What a difference a year makes! There are certainly things in daily life that are still challenging and tiring. I still miss home, this week maybe more than in a while. But we have a place here, now…. We have a daughter, too. People don’t assume quite as quickly that we’re tourists. Our worldly belongings and our relationships have multiplied greatly. I think about wearing a hat or scarf when the weather dips into the 70s. I know that persimmons will be staples in the market soon and that grapes are about to get very expensive. This year I won’t expect fresh pesto in December. And our Italian still mimics life. We’ve graduated from survival — not to fluency, but to functionality.
…back to Rome. Whew. All things considered the princess did quite well on the journey.
I hope to post something more substantial in a few days when we’ve caught our breath!
Our latest newsletter is out on email and on paper. Let us know if you didn’t get your copy!
We’re hopeful that we may have found an apartment! It’s bright, centrally located, and near a big beautiful park. (We hope to have pictures soon!)
On Saturday we’ll have our second look at it, begin negotiations on the details, and set up a time to sign the contract…. As always, there are a couple of points where things could get hung up, so stay tuned.
In honor of this find, we went to IKEA yesterday (it’s a big event when you count in the 3 hour bus ride round-trip) to test out various items in person. Except for couches, we’ve got the basics all picked out with this new apartment in mind, so we’re ready to order when we have a green light!