I came to Italy 25 years ago as a refugee fleeing civil war in Somalia.
Life in Italy today is utterly tough for migrants. The Italian government does not have the means to cater to our needs, unlike some European countries that provide migrants with housing and financial aid.
But life was even harder back then, as migrants had fewer rights. For instance, we could not start our own business firms even if we had adequate resources to do so. I am the only one in my family who migrated to Italy, my closest relatives all live in Canada.
I don’t regret my choice to come here, but if I could go back, I’d think twice about it and maybe join my family in Canada instead.
In Italy, some people had and still have prejudice against migrants. I will always remember when my son was born. After being dismissed from the hospital, I received a letter from the municipality authority in Rome that urged me to go register my child’s birth. The letter specified that I needed to bring my baby with me.
It was a cold day of October; I went at 8 AM to the municipality office in the pouring rain with a one-week-old baby in my arms. Once I got there, I noticed that the other mothers in line did not take their children with them. So I asked the officers why I was the only one who had to bring my baby with me, they replied that the porter in my building said he had never seen me pregnant. I couldn’t believe my ears: My son was born in an Italian hospital, and he should have received equal treatment.
This was a long time ago and I’m fine now. But as I get older, I wish more and more to go back home to Somalia. I want to help my country and my people.
These tough experiences made me who I am today. My mission is now to help Somalis in Italy and I am proud to be the president of the Rome-based Association of Somali Migrant Women.
Like many migrants, I think I brought valid advantages and assets to Italy. And still, our value to society is not openly recognized. We enrich, not burden, your society.