Whoever says that casual in Italy is not really casual has never worked in an NGO here. Denim, even jeans for that matter, are definitely okay at the office, as I discovered this week to my delight. Perhaps casual is just the universal dress code for working in the non-profit world. (As an aside here, I say, “Hmph!” to my Croatian roommate in DC, who, before I left, scoffed at me for thinking of bringing khakis. “No one wears them,” he snorted — clearly I had offended his European fashion sensibilities — “but bring what you want, if it makes you feel comfortable.” I’m glad that I did — I am sitting here in jeans, typing away.)
One of the important services that TAMPEP offers is private consultations at the office. Consultations can be made via appointment or on a walk-in basis. This is the story of one woman who visited our office this week.
Fatima is a 37-year-old Moroccan woman. She is unmarried, has an 8-month-old son born to her in Italy, and she will be deported next month, unless she can find employment. Her case is an example of the difficulties that migrants (not just victims of trafficking) face under the Italian immigration system.
Fatima came to Italy five years ago, using a fake visa for which she paid in order to enter the country. She is vague about what she has done since arriving in Italy, although TAMPEP suspects that she was a prostitute (Like most Moroccan women that TAMPEP assists, she is extremely reserved and reluctant to disclose too many details.). Fatima obtained a legal permit to stay in Italy under a 1998 provision for migrants who meet specific employment and residence criteria. However, the permit expires next month. The father of her baby, a Moroccan man whom she met while in Italy, has abandoned her.
Fatima’s problems are circular. First, she must find employment. She must work a minimum of 25 hours per week in order to qualify for a renewal of her residency permit. However, she can not find employment, unless she has someone to care for her son. She can not access the social services that she needs (i.e. day care) without adding her son’s name to her residency permit. The immigration police denied her request yesterday to add her son’s name, on the grounds that her permit will expire soon. The police told her she must first find a job in order to renew her residency permit, before they will add her son’s name to her permit.
TAMPEP intervenes on Fatima’s behalf in several ways. First, one of TAMPEP’s Moroccan mediators negotiated the situation between Fatima and the father of her child. The father of the child was initially reluctant to cooperate at all with the immigration procedure for his son. Fortunately, he eventually agreed to help. Next, TAMPEP is trying to help Fatima navigate through the challenging procedures of gaining access to social welfare, obtaining residency, and finding employment –all three are tied together in one large knot. TAMPEP was able to find her a position as a house cleaner, but the position is only for four hours per week -— not enough hours to grant her a residency permit. The next step is for TAMPEP to contact the Moroccan embassy and ask for its advice on Fatima’s situation.
Unfortunately, time is running out.
Posted By Julie Lee
Posted Jun 20th, 2003