I took this picture because this is where I’m learning the Italian language and it’s important for me first to learn the Italian language to communicate with people. I learnt English at school in my home country, Ethiopia.
Actually, it wasn’t in my mind to come to Italy at first. My aim or my thinking was to go to America because I have a lot of friends there and I can speak English. I wouldn’t be in difficulty with people because I can more or less communicate with my English. The opportunities that I was waiting for were in America even if it wasn’t in the near future, maybe in five or ten years but unfortunately I was working for an Italian company in Ethiopia and the people who helped me to come here were the shareholders of that company in Ethiopia and as many of us will do, I asked them if they could help me to come to Italy, if there would be any opportunity to do this. I’m just telling you some of my background. I asked them if they could help me to come to Italy and find some job.
So I came here about one and a half years ago. That was the first time that I’d left Ethiopia. Actually, I was going back and forth, coming to Italy then going back to my home. I came for three months at first then I went home for three months. I came again to get a visa for work.
Actually, I had a job in Ethiopia but I help my family, I help my brothers to go to school and what I earn there wouldn’t be enough. I have three brothers, I don’t have any sisters and I have my father and my mother. I am the second oldest. My elder brother didn’t go to school like I did. When we were studying in elementary school, our government forced him to go to the military and he didn’t go to school any further than elementary.
Is he still a soldier?
He’s been a soldier fighting, when we have a war. He was away for seven years and when he came back, I was younger than him and I had finished high school and he didn’t want to go to school anymore and now he has some bad habits that he picked up when at war - drinking, smoking something like that. He doesn’t have a good life like I do because I learn. I can differentiate what is good for me and what is bad for me. But I’m really happy for my little younger brothers because the next younger brother is going to start university this year.
I’m paying for him and also for the other second one. He is now 12 years old and he’s going to finish elementary school.
My parents don’t work. Many years ago, my father used to work for the government, driving tractors for harvesting and such things. I don’t know why but now he doesn’t work. When we were teenagers, it was a very bad time because my father didn’t have work and my mother didn’t have work, we were in trouble just to survive.
I don’t want to say that I’m really strong, but I am strong because I’m paying for my family. I have done very great things to make us someone. Moreover, if I think of my father, now, he is suffering because he doesn’t have good health. He is always in bed and I have to help him also to go to hospital and to send him some medicine because when I was in college, I studied in a private college which is expensive to pay and I couldn’t pay because I didn’t have money and they didn’t have money either so I had to work. I slept only one hour and a half during the day. I had to work for my school fees and I had to learn. In the morning I would go to school. If I have half an hour, I would go to work for my school fees. They wouldn’t pay me in cash, it went into my account and they deducted from my account. In the afternoon I had vocational class and after 4pm I would be free and I had to go to work in the evening I have to go to the library and work there too giving services in the library for the students who want to study and in the evening we didn’t have lights in the house so I studied with the fuel. I don’t know if you have it where you are but they had it in history and I used to study in that. My father, even if he asked someone, every month, he would have 5 litres of that gasoline for me to study and he paid me a lot. Moreover, and that’s also not enough, with me working was not enough to cover my school fees. He had to work during the night. During the day, he had to work for the family’s survival as a guard. During the evening, in my name, he had to watch also, he had to be a guard. Somewhere in the bush in a very big piece of land owned by the school, he had to protect the forest so that it wasn’t cut down or something like that. He had to sleep there for me and as you can understand there is a lot of rain and cold, many things that can affect his body and he got pneumonia because of the cold and he suffered a lot also because of his age, he wasn’t able to resist it, moreover, all his life he has had asthma and because of that, he wasn’t able to reduce his pneumonia because he had to cough over and over again and though the medicine helped him to cure his pneumonia, he is still in bed. One day he is OK then the next he’s back in bed. I visited them recently when I was back home.
I am working here now and I have made quite big changes to their lives and actually, when I graduated from college, I went to Addis Ababa and I got some job and I worked and I tried to give them some light, some electrical light, and now they are no longer using the fuel and it’s great help also for my brother to study now. He doesn’t face what I faced before and now being here for one year working, I don’t care about myself, if I have something to dress in, if I have something to eat with rich food or whatever it is, I don’t care because since my family have paid a lot for me, I have to repay them and this is my aim.
we have a very poor house made like a traditional house, like a hut from grass, like maybe if you have been to Africa, or see a film, maybe you could see these kind of houses. We have something like very old all of living with cattle in the same room. Even when I finished college I was living with cattle in the same room. It’s something like a circle and divided like this and here there’s another entrance and here we have sheep and the other cattle. I can draw it. It’s something like this. A circle. This is the entrance from the outside. This is to divide it. In this part we put the cattle. Maybe five cattle. In this side we keep sheep. We enter here. This is not really a bed, something like a bed but made from mud. In this corner we have a family sized bed. Here, there is a window. Here, we’ve put a fire to cook, just a traditional fire not an oven. Here there are children sleeping. After my brother came back from military servive we left this place for him and for my younger brother but me, my father, my mother and my younger brother, we all slept in the same bed. I was sleeping in the corner here, near the wall, and my mum was here inside when they were sleeping, I was reading and writing. We didn’t even have a table to write. Now, I’ve stayed here for a year and worked and I’ve tried to change their lives. I didn’t change the house, but I gave them light when I was working in Addis Ababa, but now, I have changed their house too. I’ve made them a very good house which has three bedrooms. So, they’ve left this one and I made the other one, because we have a big yard, with a metal sheet on top and with cement. With the old one we didn’t even have cement. I can show you a picture, I have one here in Italy. Also I can show you how the old one looked. I don’t have a photograph of our house but when I was back I gave my younger brother some money to make a small house so that he can be comfortable to study and I have a picture of that too. I‘ll show you. So, I built them a very nice house, modern, with windows and doors, metal sheets on top of the roof and cement walls. Not to spend a lot of money because I don’t have a lot of money, moreover, I have to help my brothers to go to school, also for their daily survival. They made a traditional structure, just digging into the ground and putting the walls of wood. After they finished that, they put in the mud and then sand and cement just to make it strong at the base. And inside it is all cemented. It really is very nice, I visited last June when I went just to see the house, just to see the change of my life, I went back home and I bought a new bed for my family, for my mum and dad. My younger brother got my own bed, from when I was living in Addis Ababa, and he took that one and he sleeps in that. In the living room, when I was back in June, I bought them a sofa and a dining room table. They are now living OK. When I was back at Christmas, my family are really happy, I spent Christmas with them.


This is in Via Alberto Rosso. This is ‘Alma Mater’. After I’d been here for 3 months, I hadn’t been to any school of Italian and so I didn’t even know how to say ‘Buongiorno’. Where I work, I use English and it was difficult for me to go anywhere by myself to say to anyone ‘I need this’. I asked my boss to look for me to find a school, any school for Italian language and he searched in the yellow pages and he found this ‘Alma Mater’. I came with my boss, he showed me where it was and I learnt how to take busses and go back and forward from the office to the school. And this has a certain feeling in my life because, it is where I learnt how to greet people. Whether it was broken or a good way of speaking, it is where I learnt my first phrases in Italian.


This is near Porta Sousa. This is the main part of the bus station, and if you go behind this building, there is a train station. Through here you can see the building. this is the exit of the train station. When you go from here there is Corso San Mauricio or something like that. I took this picture standing on the left side of San Mauricio and I took a picture of the bus station because this is the first place that I took a bus in Italy. It was number 49. It comes from Porta Susa. I got off here and went to Via Rossa - ‘Alma Mater’. It has a very good memory for me.


I work in an office on this street. This is the square, the Piazza where ! can find the market. I took this picture because I don't want to go to big supermarkets or shops because they are quite expensive I can find what I want at cheap prices in this Piazza, at this market. This is the market. In the centre of this there's a fountain In the afternoon, the market is cleared away. It finishes at one o'clock. After, the cleaners come and clean. It is then a really very nice view. Then old people and young people who want to get some fresh air there, sit there. And sometimes also when ! have a break, I don't go to have a coffee or a tea or what I need so as not to spend money. I'll just go there to sit there and have a break. I eat at home, in my house.
Is there somewhere that you go to buy the kind of food that you like from Ethiopia?
No, the food that I like from Ethiopia, I can't find it here.
Really what kind of things do you use?
What I need is vegetables or something like that. If I want to buy them I can find them for cheap prices in the markets which are found in the squares, not in supermarkets. There are markets in the morning only. I can go there and I can find good prices The supermarkets are quite expensive. If I don't find something that I want or something that I need in the market, in the morning, I'll just go to the supermarket and get what I need. The fruits of my country. I like to eat fruits and vegetables. I don't eat fruits here because I don't like them. I don't know why I don't like them They're not really natural, they're not sweet, maybe I don't know. We have a lot of fruits, really a lot of fruits and vegetables Here I don't know, the quality is not so good, absolutely.
Are there things that you prefer here to your home country, that you'd miss if you go back?
Their pasta. Basta. I wouldn’t miss anything.


Near my office, there is a bakery. It was the first place I went to also when I didn't know where to go. I work and when I finish in the evening, I go there to buy some bread. Actually, I'm not used to eating bread all the time. I don't think that the bread or pizzas of the Italians are bad, no, just, sometimes they are not well done Sometimes you can see it's nothing, it's burnt on the top and there's nothing inside. Anyway, it's not a matter of pride. In Ethiopia we have a different kind of bread made from wheat. I like it it's home made. In Ethiopia, we call it 'ingerra'. I can't find it here, also the grains are not here, only maybe in Ethiopia. It's called teff It's a traditional Ethiopian food and I can't find it here. The first weeks and months after I arrived in Italy, I found it difficult because I was used to eating my traditional food and I couldn t find it here Here mostly the main dish is pasta or something like that I didn't like.
Do you like it now?
I'm used to it now, because there's no other choice. Back home in Ethiopia, we use pepper that will burn you. A spice. It's really very hot We are used to it but, with ingerra, we will make a sauce or something like that and cook with ingerra and eat. For us in Ethiopia, it is something like fibre. Here is nothing to give me flavour and I was quite in trouble when I first arrived, but now I'm used to it Sometimes when I go back home I bring something of that and III just use them.


Every morning I have to come from Caselle, where I live. I take the blue bus, it's not a city bus, and I exit from the bus in Porta Sousa I take another bus and this is Piazza Bernini, where I get out and I turn and walk along here. Here in Italy, you can find one car, one person. In Ethiopia, in one car there are a lot of people. Not everyone has a car. I think more or less here - each one maybe the father has, the mother has, the son has Another big difference is that back home we really have a very good relationship with people, socially I mean. We love each other, really, really. We respect each other. We have a very good honour with one another. But here as you can see always... for example if you are a newcomer to my country, if you take an apartment to yourself, people will notice you. If they see you walking, they will greet you and they will have a very big, a very big smile. They are very poor, very. Ethiopia is a poor country They are very poor but they have a very big smile to other people whether they know them or not, they have a very big smile. A very good acceptance of someone, they are open But here, they don't want to greet you, they don't want to know you. This is my point of view, maybe because I am a foreginer to them, maybe not, maybe they are like this to other people too. But actually they are absolutely closed and for example where I live I don't know anyone. I don't know who lives there They don't greet me, it's quite...for a person who lived in quite a different way, I mean in Ethiopia, where they are open and respectful and smiling people. If you come from that kind of society and you come to this society, it's quite difficult because you are not sure of what you are doing. Another problem is that you can see that most of the people, that they don't like you and when it goes like this it means that it s really, really not good. And moreover, they don't speak to you but what they are doing tells you that they don't like you. In this way they are killing your morale and your mind and physically too.


This is my church. I'm an Adventist, a Christian, and when I arrived here for the first time it was on a Friday evening, and I didn't know where to worship, because I worship on Saturday and so I just spent Saturday in my house reading only the bible and the next sabbath I had to find my church. I asked my boss to find me an Adventist church and he looked in the yellow pages and he found this one.
Do you have any friends who go there?
I don't have any Ethiopian friends who go there. But there are many Africans form Ghana or something like that. The others are Romanians and Italians too. I made friends with them because the first time I didn't speak Italian and we have an English group to study the bible. On the first day I met a Phillipino lady who led the English group. I met her and she introduced me to the others, also, there is one lady from South Africa, she's white and they are really my friends now. Every Saturday, I usually go there, whether it is cold or whatever, I go to my church.


This is Piazza Bernini again. The bus drops me here near this mini-bar. When I go to my church, because the Piazza Bernini is really a very wide and I didn’t know where to turn for the first time. I use this mini-bar as an marker, If I want to go to my church or come from somewhere, I look for the mini-bar. When I see it I know where I am. I’ve never been in but it’s a very good marker for me.


In the centre I know only one street. It's where I go to send my family money if they are in any kind of trouble.
I take the no.1 bus and I exit here. After I exit here, infront of me, after passing the station, there is a pharmacy. When I see it I know that I should get off the bus. When I see the pharmacy, I immediately turn right. I just go on and on passing several streets then I come to a place where I can send money.
Even if I send even 25 Euros, it's a lot of money in Ethiopia and my family will do something with it. I remember that I phoned my brother and he said ‘look, we are quite in trouble and my mum isn’t feeling good’. Immediately, I went to give them some money and that evening he had it in his pocket. My mum was really very sick with malaria and typhoid together, almost about to die. And they ran to get the taxi and went to the hospital. Also, the doctor was really afraid for her life but with God’s help and the doctor’s help, she got quite better and after two weeks I went to visit them.