I am sitting outside on the terrace of my flat. As I stretch my legs out in front of me and enjoy the cool, lazy breeze, I marvel at my good fortune at being stationed here in Turin. Here in Italy, for that matter. Our building is old, with its dingy cream-colored exterior, its red shingled roofs and small, narrow chimneys. The entire building is centered around a small courtyard, so I have neighbors to my left, to my right, and in front, across our small courtyard. I am on the top floor, the fourth floor, which gives me the distinct advantage of being able to spy on what most of my neighbors are doing once they emerge on their terraces.
In just one hour, I will be on my way to our office. On the streets of this city, pedestrians rule the road. As cars zip around the narrow roads, pedestrians fearlessly step off the curbs and march across the streets. (Traffic lights seem to be reserved only for the busiest of intersections.) The cars screech to a halt, a mere couple of feet away, and the pedestrians, without blinking an eye, continue on their way. As I hesitate on street corners, my colleague assures me, ”The motorists must stop for you!” With American motorists still fresh in my mind, I nevertheless continue to wait for a break in traffic before proceeding.
TAMPEP’s building is nestled in the poorer side of the city. It is a modest office consisting of four rooms. The modesty of the environment belies the important work that the organization does.
The foundation of TAMPEP’s work is its outreach to sex workers. Three or four times a week, the “Street Unit” travels in and around the city to introduce the organization to women, distribute information and materials, and offer assistance to them should they need it in the future. I will accompany the Street Unit on their rounds next week.
Posted By Julie Lee
Posted Jun 13th, 2003