Leslie Ibeanusi

Leslie Ibeanusi (Transnational AIDS Prevention among Migrant Prostitutes in Europe Project – TAMPEP): Leslie earned her BS in biology at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia (2001-2005). In 2005, she was crowned as the inaugural Miss Nigeria in America, where she represented young Nigerian women of the diaspora. Since then, she has become passionately involved in global health and social justice issues affecting women and children in African countries. She had also co-founded a nonprofit called Making Noise Inc, which uses the arts and media to raise awareness of social justice issues in Africa countries. At the time of her fellowship, Leslie had just graduated from the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, where she received her Master's in public health with a concentration in global health promotion.

Gelatto and Piazza’s

14 Jun

I love gelato! Almost everyday since I arrived in Turin, I’ve purchased a cone of this sweet stuff…literally…its that good!

I love the Italian style architecture and design- grand piazzas and beautifully decorated porticoes. It would be soo cool to walk down downtown Silver Spring in Maryland or stroll through Eastern Market in DC and see beautiful fat cherubs blowing trumpets or the etchings of a green utopian landscape. That’d be nice- I’m so blessed to be able to see all of this.

One afternoon, I hopped on the tram, trying to make my way to Piazza Solferino, a popular tourist area in Turin. I wanted to see the sights…and find new flavours of gelato. I wanted to double check which stop to get off, so I asked one Nigerian lady in front of me. She looked quizzically at me and responded that she didn’t know the area well. “Ok,” I thought. I tapped another Nigerian women to my front and asked the same thing. “Oh, I don’t know where that is.” Really?! Asking for Piazza Solferino is like asking for the metro stop for the Smithsonian Museums in downtown DC. How do they not know where it is? (Now, perhaps this task might have been easier, had the stops been labelled or announced upon our approach to each one or if I spoke Italian) They didn’t say they were tourists or visitors.

Yes, this very well could have been an isolated case…I’m not judging these women at all. Though
it made me wonder- have any of the girls trafficked into Turin (or immigrants for that matter) had a chance to really see Turin? Or do they only know it in reference to the corners they work? Have they had a chance to walk down Via Roma, hurridly licking a gelato cone before it melts on their fingers? What is Turin to them? It made me think of the girls that come into the office- they rush in and out- busily hurrying off to the next place, whether it be Italian school, work, or their apartment. Do they ever have a chance to just stop and enjoy an afternoon to themselves?

In the time I’ve been here, I have learned most of these young women…and most immigrant workers…do not have that luxury. The week is spent at work. Italian law stipulates that you have to work more than 20 hours/week to be eligible for a Permit of Stay (which is like gold for foreign workers) to reside in Turin.

(sigh) Its not fair- these girls were duped into coming to Turin, of all places, to work, and when they are here…they still suffer. It’s not fair…everyone should have a chance to enjoy gelato strolling down a piazza…everyone.

Posted By Leslie Ibeanusi

Posted Jun 14th, 2007

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