[r] My name [name] I am of Eritrean origin born in Decuala province of Asmara. I lived fine for 18 years with my family. They are peasants, but we were fine. And then for 8 years came the trestles who ate everything. And my father was desperate, had 2 sisters in the capital in Asmara, and have brought me and my sister, who was older and already engaged, my mother was daughter she had land and livestock and one of my aunts with whom I grew up had only one daughter and asked my mom to keep me from growing up with her. I was with her 3 years, say with the promise that she would make me study in the morning, you’ll have helped her and in the afternoon I go to school. But she did not keep this promise and then my dad after 2 years each year that came to tell her if you do not make her study or pay her or send her home so they began to quarrel and I heard them after 3 years I went every year to the party of my country I agreed with my cousin on the side of my father had my same age living in Massawa and we escaped we slept from strangers and so began my life. My aunt wanted me to come back, but I didn’t want to get beaten up by your parents. When you’re wrong it’s different from when a stranger beats you or your aunt. doesn’t accept it. And you ask yourself why she beats me and then I didn’t speak out of fear I didn’t speak little. That is, I was closed but my brain always worked by nature so I don’t express myself but my brain went on and on and on you tell me to do this…. I didn’t want to go back to the village because I had the terror of hyenas and snakes and the darkness, so I never went back to my cousins. I said I want to work. I look at some children or I go to work at the houses of the Arabs Massawa was hot and they sent me to do the shopping for a small thing and then I started to cry I didn’t want to work anymore because my aunts were married to Italians and I wanted to work only with Italians. I want to stay with them but where you want me to find you Italians for you who you are so small they told me

[i] Were you a servant girl in Arab homes and a maid?

[r] Yes because when you ran away you didn’t study because my aunt didn’t let me study. So you have to work to earn your living. Then one of my aunts worked for an Italian family. Destiny wanted it to be Piedmontese too if she called Giordano the lady was 40 years old she was from Tigrad. She used to feed and had a little girl and needed help and so I started working with them as I always wanted with these people I had my house aside I made her coffee in the morning. The gentleman was rich and treated me as a daughter, but paid me what I expected $ 15 was the Ethiopian dollars at that time. Each year I went to my country to visit my parents. I was fine and then after 4 years he went to Italy when it was hot after 4 years he brought his wife. He said he wants to keep [name] they called me [name] but I was not good to take away. The job to the person who has been at their service for 40 years and then I was not enough more than 15 dollars because I grew up I spoke Italian even if now I speak it little he bought pearls what I saw could also be gold he bought the mother of pearl and made buttons after he built a button factory and so I accepted for a while ‘and then I found work when I arrived in Italy I went to look for him.

[i] How old were you in time, [name]?

[r] Calculate I was 13 when I went to Massawa I stayed 8 years plus one year of work here and there so 9 years in total plus 13

[i] 22 years old, you know.

[r] Yes. So I went back to Asmara I accompanied them because they were leaving because refugees were beginning the war my cousin who was married to an Italian who now lives here in the valleys also came with her husband because all Italians have become refugees and already when I was with the Piedmontese family wanted to send me to Italy when I was so small study and I am with his mom but my cousin when he left could not take me and then my father did not want to sign my distino in Itlia put it in my brain I have to go there will be the result of my character as a rebel but not violent because I do not like violence do not know how to tell you if you see that my firmness was born of what now that I think about I say a child of 13 years old where goes?  I think about it but what grace did I have?  because seeing now these underage boys who run away you can not understand this brain that guides them for me to get out of the dark to escape from the snakes I go somewhere else I did not know where I was going so is the brain of boys who do not know where to go but my life went well so my aunt who was married to Italian not the one who made me grow but the other gave me the guarantee and in 15 days I took my passport and this made me happy I sent many boys.Why did the Italians send you? Why do you spend so much money making these gentlemen pay who call you they pay in dollars and they put the money in lire each has its own interest as there was also an agency make you the contract expenses and that owner who makes the contract pay.

[i] To come here to Italy and get a visa?

[r] Yes. And the one who called you the one who made you the contract spent and the one who is in our country had money but could not send the broker Massawa sent what there is to pay in gold for when the commanders come with the ship I saw instead those of Asmara owner of the wine factory have the currency in dollars down so that Italian spends in Lire and puts them in his bank and the thing turns instead they spend in Dollars in fact I asked him a big chain of gold suitcases that he paid for that I said I open my brain I take from many people who I met from the Arab family from the Italian family I was a child I did not understand and I said this Arab family what gives me what? then I prefer my family who are Italian my mom is third generation Greek my grandmother married Greek my grandmother married a Greek uncle my grandmother married a Greek because they married each other and then I come to Turin at the end of 3 years of work in Lucca by the lady with whom I had a contract every month that I paid I sent the money to Asmara a month did not pay me if how she played poker had used my salary in the game

[i] Didn’t he give you his salary?

[[r] One month she wanted to rip me off now and then she’d give me the receipts.

[i] Just to understand, did the lady give your salary down in Asmara?

[r] No. I would make them pay me and I would send it to my bank once it showed me how to make my money I would manage it and then living there for 3 years, there was a girl student Tuscany I paid 500 lire to teach me I never stopped studying and then they put my freedom on television was born the RAI3 that was GEo Geo I saw only that and the news made me discover the world when someone took me and told me “what a beautiful face” I came back crying there is no more I did it, because I had beautiful eyes they called me Lola Falana I made them up well, I had the body of a small doll but everything harmonized with these Italian people there is not one I did one I said I was married and we had fun saying but I did not come to get married but to work and return what did this lady my employer did to send me away? because when you have finished the contract you have to leave because the return ticket is already paid.

[i] Were you leaving to go back to your country?

The marshal told me your contract has expired, and my father needs your help, for a month you stay with us I said but when it expires what do I do?  I always say there is God there has always been with me in times of difficulty there was no one there but him the marshal tells me “feel dear you accept because this here wants to send you away” did not give me my clearance and told me I paid the ticket because you were reimbursed by those who made the contract who go to Rome to warn the police of Rome that the contract has expired so they make you repatriate because there is already the return ticket check that you have the ticket and send me forwarding said you do me this pleasure because you already have the ticket back, so I will answer this gentleman where I will go to work not to her and you will not go to Rome come straight to me

[i] The Marshal

[r] Yes the marshal the lady told him that I have to go to him because you have to expire my clearance and he told me I will not let you repatriate you do me the favor and I exchange the visas that I had old the only thing where I let off steam she told me to take them away I said no the old stuff stays with the old contract I’ll give you half of your pay, I said no or give them all or after me you will pay them on your knees thanks for what you did to me and thanks for everything then I went to Pino Torinese I found work and I got pregnant of my son Luca I spent 9 months of pain because the father wanted me to abort but I said my first flower I do not take it away

[i] The family you work for wanted you to have the baby aborted?

[r] No, the father

[i] The father of your child?

[r] Luke’s father the Italian and then when a woman in love and pregnant with her man and if he does not help him hates him despite being in love I have only the effort and weight you do not come the love I tried to live with him not sent away what I could do I have no mother or nothing Jesus endured his cross and I supported her my cross I did not want to marry one of my townspeople I did not want to marry another Italian I came here is fate for me God sent me a sign that he will show me my way was born my son after 9 months of tears the lady where I worked wanted to send me away and then the owner of my job went to Beirut to stay there, and she told me if I want to go to the residential house in Monte Carlo in France her husband told him leave it alone, you want to send [name] away that has no one, is a good girl you go to Monte Carlo and [name] will stay here at home alone if you see that she thought that my son was her for that it treated me badly the lady who worked with her at Pino Torinese told me “but what you want has a car has his job but what you want more” I said but I do not love him and she says “but that you care that you love him make a deal with him for the sake of your son then I told him I do not love you and do not ask me to have intimate relationships with you just kissing good night until I feel a feeling for you and he was smart he behaved well and marrying me you have to know my son you do not marry you there was an Eritrean my first love was in love with me I said we get married but I do not have work he said I do the dishwasher the driver one day calls me we went to the sea with my son How is this son made?What do you think, you weren’t there and I didn’t do it with the air. I know who the father is because I was correct I didn’t go left and right I know only one man

[i] How old was Luca when you got married?

[r] Luca was born in 1977 and we moved in 81 and a year and something cohabiting and Luca did not know his father in fact I detached him immediately when we went on holiday in Calabria when he went out alone I took the keys and went out with my son and Enzo and we used to go around on Sundays and then at noon we went back home I used to tell my son this Italian gentleman is your father and when my son tells us what he did when we went out the father does not understand and asks me I said I do not know

[i] I have a question, so how many years are you and your current husband married?

[r] Enzo? We got married in 81

[i] So with love there is no love I will not give you a kiss if you exist from 81 to today are 37 years old

[r] That was at the beginning that I told him that I do not love you but then after love came the affection because it won me I had feelings for another person but anyway I went on but he did not have to do things with force because my character does not allow him to have nothing he is 15 years older than me looks at you and study your character and many things he has done kept me hidden from my mother-in-law told me “you have worked miracles” because I worked I said for my family for my children in winter work little and I paid maximum fee for my children I had the mortgage in his name because he could not because he was artisan what he wanted more, I do not ask for anything a year when we went to the beach took me to the boutique and buys me a nice costume and during Christmas time gave me money to buy when there is a discount we always did things in two even when we took the place I put 100000 lire

[i] Now let’s get to the word you mentioned at some point [name] this enterprising Eritrean woman with a very intense experience arrives in Turin and arrives at the symbolic place where we are sitting now to have a local restaurant as this was born as it happened in what year?

[r] In 1986

[i] And you had another club after African Club that was the first local Afro in Turin in 86 in 86 and there were people just arrived from Africa a bit ‘wild but not in the bad sense but the Torinese could not stand this because there was live African music Congolese Zairese and other guys was beautiful belly dance African dances and colorful people were beautiful when closing the international school of Fiat came to the local and party I still have the photos we have a big picture of Asmara with under all people passed by here then I had a football team created under the name African Club of all races that there were Arabs beautiful Africans so many Italian women married to African men all those I knew Moroccans or others are married to Italian women and made their lives was a beautiful place all painted with African paintings a Syrian gentleman designated me on the wall it was beautiful to see people for a year we went well and we opened a place in Eritrea with a typical Piedmontese name with a Piedmontese cook

[i] Another restaurant

[r] In Asmara we did it so that’s why I wasn’t standing.

[i] Excuse me, so you had 2 restaurants one Eritrean here in Turin in San Salvario and one Italian down in Asmara

[r] Yes in Asmara, and they told me to call it the Red Sea I wanted to call it as the symbol of Turin

[i] We wrote the bulk of the name on the tickets since there is no restaurant with this name we called it Red Sea we mothers when we arrived we created an association called Mahbarò in 1975 we bought book cassettes everything you need to write think that I did not know the geography of my country known studying here, we were studying Italian Thursday and the Sunday before the meeting we were studying that Eritrea so I took the third grade and so from 71 that I arrived I had fun until 74 after the fun ended you were working meeting to discuss the interest of the country when the war began I took 200,000 lire and I paid 30% of my salary and I had a child I paid 60 lire to the sisters for the child until we were 3 years old we got married and so there was nothing but tears we did manual work baskets organization we did everything

[i] Were you making books to tell the story of the country?

[r] No the books were there the politics we get written of the fighters the tapes all we buy one by one necessarily because the money was needed

[i] Has the government compensated you for your activism?

[[r] Yes, I fought 7 months I was like a nail

[i] Did you fight?

[r] I didn’t fight but I did fight did you do activism for 7 months in the field?

[r] Yes but not with….

[i] Not with weapons but with actions?

[r] I was going to ask for advice from lawyers I contacted one who worked in the government on the women’s side we took the independence of Eritrea and the women of my side called Saray are very strong so I did my duty there was a gentleman who gave the social housing a big black does not even look Eritrean were in 3 told me that I have to leave my house Why should I leave?  I have the card from the first government for what I did I have the women’s card the card of the worker these are my cards over my passport Eritrean and why do I have to leave?  tell me why you didn’t fight I tell him you fought but I gave you food I worked in the ice I took food away from my children if I hadn’t given you food if we didn’t make factories we didn’t do anything like you thought we would? you would have died of hunger, those who died with weapons are fine 7 months who did not quit I wrote about the complaints and he signed a receipt to me to say that I received you one day told a soldier this woman and such as a military and that military told me you slept on a clean pillow and I on a rock said it but you did not walk on the snow I want my rights I did my duty now I want my rights

[i] What year was this?

[[r] In 2007 2007 was a year of hell, my husband if he is put with another woman my nephew in my house the wedding if it is ruined and since the wedding is ruined and everything was to my name the restaurant the gastronomy I went I closed everything I do not eat even you do not eat, for a year I leave you the residence at my house then after a year if you want to come back you have to fix the broken wall that is collapsing told me no I want to go with the other then go I closed everything in 2007 for 7 months I kept the house and told me the government want the villa take it and the military move where you were so you made them move every 2 years that the contract expires these military say “she is in Italy is rich” I am not rich, give me 60 million lire that I paid for that villa do I have all the receipts of what I paid 30% give me back this money? since 1996 every August for 5 days we meet all the Eritreans of the world in Bologna all those who have done politics, we have suffered even the Italian government has done something for Eritrea has done more for Ethiopia for interests to us nothing, we told the Italian government you are our father you had to do something for us

I ask you a question, since you are an activist your children were born here in Italy?

[r] Yes

[i] Were you both able to pass on the values of the tradition with which you grew up and which forged you?

[r] Yes, I think 100% Luca yes, Nil poco, because Luca went to the “Fiori Rossi” every August he went away 6 months there they taught him the language and they know other guys go to the beach.

[i] What was his name?

[r] Red flowers

[i] It was a place where they were

[r] Every summer these guys gathered before independence but the guys were here.

[i] Boys of Eritrean descent?

[r] Yes, Nil I nursed him I went 2 times

[i] Where was this place? Sometimes they’d go where the sea is.

[i] In Eritrea?

[r] No qua

[i] So they were summer camps?

[r] Yes summer camps

[i] Summer camps of the Eritrean community for children?

[r] They brought them for free, Nil didn’t go because he was small I suckled him I brought him to find Luca Luca who grew him up like me, because I was a lively little girl and he looks like me he has my blood he likes music he likes movement I grew him freely I was already closed I was afraid of everything I didn’t talk about but my brain didn’t turn and didn’t stop I say it’s fine yes, at the end I do what you tell me my head when Luca tells me now go home we come to see you but inside me I know that I will not stay more than 3 months I do my things what there is to check I get fed up there and I hear Turin calling me because I feel like I lived here more than 40 years I’ve been in Turin since 74

[i] [name] in life you did so many things you arrived young girl you did the maid then you had Luca your first child then you opened the restaurant then you arrived at the restaurant in Eritrea but how many things you did in life how many steps?

[r] So, when I got married and took Italian citizenship I continued to be a maid and I was studying when I took Luca to the nursery school I had the car I went to for everything and then I took the fifth and third grade helped me the girl who taught me I wanted to study to do what I could not do as a child I wanted to study but my aunt did not make me do it in my little one I did my best to open my eyes to know how to read the newspaper to know things and then while I was studying for the eighth grade came the application to do the janitor in the school asked me a my teacher to do the question told me that there is it do I said that I do not yet have the eighth grade diploma I remember having taken in good French said I ask the question, I did it brought it and then the result came out 2 only 2 people my son and I and at that time they accepted those who have more children and so the forgotten I went to Asmara I opened the restaurant and in 2007 I received the house and I closed everything back to Italy a little ‘crazy for so many things from the husband and the one who made the family because if I did not go to the asylum and only thanks to my children I had closed a room in the restaurant and became my room I was there arrival in Italy in October my son Luca tells me mom you’re lucky you got a telegram call you to work at school I l, I had forgotten, after 27 years I worked for 7 full years and then they told me in 2013 that I arrived at the age of retirement

[i] Thank you.

[r] Thanks to you, and I hope that in your life you can achieve what you dreamed of but as I told you not to say this I do not, I tell you according to my experience but you say my God guide me even if you are not Christian light a candle and believe the Muslims you must believe that those faithful wise people pray for us .