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					Third interview
Female section of the Verona district prison

The interviewee is a thirty-three year old single Nigerian woman with a daughter who
is nearly four years old. The woman is currently attending middle school in prison.

Question: Are you here with your family?
Answer: Only with my daughter: my daughter however lives in Naples.
Q: How long have you been living in Italy?
A: For nearly seven years, I have always been in Naples.
Q: Why did you come to Italy?
R: I was attending the second year of University in Lagos Nigeria. Microbiology. I
was very good at school but I wanted to change, I wanted a different life.
Q: Did you leave on your own?
A: Yes, I left without my parents knowing.
Q: But did you have any money when you left?
A: Yes
Q: Did you leave alone?
A: Yes
Q: How would you describe your present situation?
A: Not very good: I haven’t seen my daughter for a long time: since I have been here
my daughter has visited me twice in a period of one year five months; the journey
from Naples is very long. I have asked eight times to be transferred, not only asking
for the Naples destination, but also for prisons in the Campania region.
My daughter is my great worry: she was living with an Italian family, a good family,
but I was afraid they would not give me back my daughter, that she would start liking
them too much and a “brother” of mine (friend), went to fetch her. Now she is living
with him, he pays for private nursery school, he looks after her, he has brought her
here to see me. But the journey is very long. The last time they came the girl cried a
lot and I felt very bad.
I have to stay in prison another three years, the Italian law states that a transfer should
be given to mothers to be closer to their children, but I cannot be transferred because
the prisons in the south of Italy are overcrowded.
I haven’t written to my parents since I have been in prison, they know I’m in prison,
but I don’t want to give them this worry.
Q: How is your situation as regards work?
A: I have never worked in my life: in Nigeria I used to study, when I was in Naples I
sold belts and shoes to families as a street vendor. My boyfriend and I used to go
around in his car. Here I haven’t worked in prison either, even if I wanted to. Nobody
has ever called me. When I get out though I will probably go to London, here
everything is difficult, from finding work to getting a residence permit. I have no
future, here.
(IN PRISON AS WELL AS THE BEGINNERS COURSE OF ITALIAN AND
MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDIES, THE WOMAN HAS ALSO ATTENDED A
KNITTING-MACHINE COURSE FINANCED BY THE VENETO REGION)

A: I attended University for nearly two years, I had a Science school leaving
certificate.
Q: How about a house?
A: When I leave here I will go to my “brother”. I have no other solution. He helps me
with everything. He is like a friend for me, even when I was with my boyfriend, he
was always near me, he was the only one with whom I talked. When I was arrested he
helped me with my girl. He would like us to be together, but I don’t know, for me he
is only a friend, that is the way it has always been.
Q: And how about social life?
A: I only have this person that helps me. I then have a sister and a brother in
Switzerland, another sister in London. They are married.
Q: Has there been any racial discrimination towards you?
A: I’m not a pushy person. I listen but do not talk. In Naples I have never suffered
from racial discrimination, but in prison yes: there are privileges for Italians as
regards work.
Q: Any difficulties as regards legal status?
A: I had a residence permission, now it has expired and I don’t think it will be
renewed. I have been arrested in the street, never denounced, perhaps someone
reported on me. It went like this: when my boyfriend (Nigerian) left me because I
was expecting a baby, and returned to Nigeria, I took his job. I started going around
selling the stuff (drugs), and then I was arrested. The police arrested me, they put me
in a room and watched me every hour from a small spy-hole. They later exclaimed
“But how can you be so calm with all you have done?” …. “I knew that a new life
had started for me and I could do nothing about it.”
Q: But why did your boyfriend leave you when you where pregnant?
A: He did not want the responsibility of a child. Now he is married and in Nigeria. I
don’t know if he was in love.
Q: Does he know you are in prison?
A: He must certainly have known.
Q: What is your relationship with the people in the place ?
A: In Naples I was well accepted, everybody welcomed me.
I had a friend in Naples: I was living in a condominium where there were only white
people and they accepted me very well.
Q: Relate a negative experience.
A: None in particular . Only here in prison, favouritism toward Italians especially as
regards work.
.
Q: What would you like to complete in the next month?
A: My great wish is to get nearer Naples. I don’t care if the prison is ugly, if there are
a lot of people ….. if we are crowded in a cell. I don’t care about anything. I only
want to see my daughter.
Then I will finish school, but I will still be in prison …..
Q: and what about the next six months?
A:(Here we talked about the possibility that she could attend University, at least in
theoretically: the woman is very good with a high ability; but she has no idea of what
she could still obtain during her prison period or later.)
Q: What about next year?
A: I hope to be in Naples.
Q: And later on?
A: Find a job, have a family and have another three children.
Q: How do you judge your Language level?
A: I get by, I am almost confident both in spoken and written Italian, as well as in
oral comprehension.
Q: How did you learn the language?
A: I attended a beginners course in prison and this year middle school. Before I didn’t
know a word of Italian.
Q: But how could you sell belts and shoes?
A: I did what I could, I knew something, but very little.
Q: Would you do other lessons in Italian if these were offered to you?
A: Yes, I would.
Q: What information would be useful to improve your situation?
(Here the woman thinks it over a while and then makes a quick list of requirements.)
A: Study
      Be able to attend University
      With the help of a good Lawyer, paying him, have a residence permit
      Have the opportunity of obtaining more information in prison:
      there are no papers, only in Italian.
      Foreigners know nothing about Law
      If the Lawyer does not tell us something, I know nothing
Q: Would you join the project by helping, giving advice, collecting material?
A: Certainly

				
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Description: Terza-intervista