The Hofstra Romans were gifted a once in a lifetime opportunity Wednesday. Our friends from Shoot4Change gave us a tip that the Embassy of the United States was holding a workshop and video screening for organizations involved with and helping the refugees flooding into Italy. Although we were too big of a group to secure a spot in the first half of the presentation, we were lucky enough to see the screening.
The screening was a series of short films produced by an American filmmaker who documented the different stories of some refugees who emigrated to Italy. Although the films were mostly in Italian, it was still so fascinating seeing what the lives of these people are now like after they made their long journeys away from home. I also was surprised by the fact that so many countries were represented by these refugees: India, Gambia, Mahli, Afgahnistan and more.
The screening was held at the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center, which has been a sanctuary for refugees in the heart of Rome for over thirty years. This is a day center for refugees to visit, and many who come actually have housing paid for by the center in exchange for some work and volunteering. One of the refugees took us in the back room where he makes crafts and jewelry to later sell with other refugees in exchange for shelter. He explained to us that he is an author of two books and had a great life in his home country of Afgahnistan with a family and all. Now, he says his family has been killed and he was homeless for years before finding this shelter. Despite his hardships, he is thankful he was welcomed into this new life and that he has a new family. It was an absolutely heartbreaking story to hear and what was even more distressing is the fact that all he wants to do is return to his home, but he knows he cannot.
We set up some interviews and took a picture with a very kind lady from the embassy once the screening ended. The refugees had some of their art for sale, so I bought a pair of earrings for ten euros. It was a small contribution, but hopefully something that along with donations from others, will help make a difference.
After our extremely special night, we split up into two groups for dinner. Most of us ventured to an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant. The best part? It was only 20 euros and the food was pretty tasty! The food angels were looking down on us that night. I completely out-ate the entire table, and for that I was proud.
Everyone eventually met up at St. John’s and went out to our favorite little bar to celebrate the beginning of our last weekend in Europe.