Melinda Willis

Melinda Willis (TAMPEP, Turin): At the time of her fellowship, Melinda was studying for a Master’s degree at the Fletcher School, Tufts University. She was the 2004-2005 co-editor of Praxis, the Fletcher Journal of International Development.

Closed for the Holiday

05 Aug

In Italy, the month of August is dedicated to vacations. On the news last week, the headline actually read “Italy is closed for the holiday” as footage of traffic jams stretching for miles (or kilometers) was shown. As someone living in a city that is neither on the coast nor a major tourist destination, I can testify that in August, things really do slow down to a crawl. More shops are closed than open for business, but I am told that in the past it was much harder to find anything open in these last weeks of summer.

Given the fact that life outside the office has slowed considerably, it seems fitting that today is my last day with TAMPEP. While a few on the staff will remain at work throughout the month to continue to assist women who come seeking help (trafficking doesn’t take a holiday), many are now taking much-deserved vacations. These past few days have seen me trying to leave an easily detectable trail of my work for others to find should they need it, and making a few last minute additions to the website.

Ah, the website. That, too, has fallen victim to the call of the August holiday. When Rosanna went to sign the contract with the web host, she was told that while normally these contracts only take an hour to process, because of the holiday, their web space won’t be ready until September. The good news is that the host company is more than willing to put the site up for them, so start looking out for it in the fall. I know I’ll be watching.

Almost every day for the last 10 weeks I sat at this desk, working on this computer. In the process, I certainly got to know a lot about the individual projects TAMPEP has launched in the past and are planning for the future. It is hard not to gain that insight when you take the time to read and collect information. But for all of the reports I read and the drafts I wrote for the website and for grant proposals, nothing taught me more about this job than the two occasions I went out with the mobile street unit.

This little office churns with activity every day. On one end of the office sit the computers, where Salvo crunches the numbers and Giulia and Luisa make sure that their projects are running smoothly. On the other end is a room where Simona and Sonia arrange meetings with cultural mediators and wait to meet those who come in for help. At the center of all of this activity are these women that TAMPEP reaches out to on the street, as well as other migrants and victims of trafficking who hear about TAMPEP and seek help. All the work is really about these individuals and making real changes in their lives.

So what I did over my summer vacation might seem small when you look at everything that still needs to be done at TAMPEP and elsewhere, but I hope it was valuable nonetheless. For me, it only took two days to realize this was all worthwhile.

Posted By Melinda Willis

Posted Aug 5th, 2004

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