Her name is Martina. She is a courageous young woman of 19 years.
I sat beside Martina on flight from Rome to Amsterdam. She was on her way for a job interview as a Nanny. We were on our way home from a European vacation.
Martina was from Naples Italy. This was her first step towards her dream. Her dream to be a movie director. She had to leave Italy because, as I understood. It was a reason for family and friends to laugh at her rather than support her and her dream.
I encouraged her to continue to believe in herself and her dream. She would be making $3000 Euro a month working 4 days a week as a Nanny. I was shocked. I had just met a lady from the Ukraine who was looking after my husbands Zia (Aunt) in Italy. She was making only $800 Euro a month, working 6 days a week. As my husband conversed with his Zia I opened a conversation with her care giver.
Her name Nina. She had been 8 years in Italy. Her husband died at 33 years of age. She was the only one working to support her 2 married children. She had not met her grandchildren.
Unlike Martina, who was able to leave the country and begin the journey towards her dream Nina was not. If she left Italy she would not be able to re enter hence loose her income. She lives with my husbands Zia in a very small area of a home which was once her own. Her sons have divided it into 4 homes. One for each of the three sons and a very small one bedroom for their mother with a tiny bathroom and a very tiny kitchen which consists of a sink and 2 burner electric cook top on the counter.
My husbands Zia pointed out that the care giver sleeps in a folding cot bed as her bed was only for her and her husband. Now that he's past away it is only for her alone. We all had a chuckle.
My mother in law passed away 4 years ago. Her care giver was from Bulgaria. She also slept in a separate bed in the same home as my mother in law. It was a full size apartment so quite comfortable. Her caregiver was Nellie. In 2009 we took the two of them to Positano. It was quite a challenge to get my mother in law around in a wheel chair. Italy is a country not suited for those with disabilities. But no matter where we went someone would help us.
This photo is in Positano this year. Taken with a friend, our daughter and two nieces and a great niece.
I recall another Zia who lived in Naples. She was not able to do stairs and lived on the second floor of a building. It was a very steep set of stairs that was difficult for us to climb back in the 90's. She would put her money in a basket and lower it to the street below so that the veggie or fruit vendor would put her grocery list of items and her change into the basket and she would pull it back up through her bedroom window.
The street vendor would travel town to town on a three wheeled type of motor cycle to sell his goods.
I've had quite a life knowing two cultures. It takes a lot of courage to be yourself as it is easy to get lost living in the expectations of another culture.
What is your dream? Courage lives within you. Stir it up and make your dreams come true.