«Romania, 1996. Together with Gheorghe, my husband and our 3 children, we left our country, like many of our countrymen, looking for a job and a better future for our children. We left blindly, without even knowing where we would stay for the night once we reached Turin. For a week, we were hosted by our Romanian friends, and then in a rented flat. Completely empty. For a week we were sleeping on the floor, on a blanket. Thank God it was summer!
We were gripped by fear. How would our children, who had been attending regular school in Romania, have been able to continue with their studies now? Had we done the right thing? Would we find a job? After a while, we had to leave the place where we were, because it was too risky for the owner to rent it out to illegal migrants. Then another difficulty: where could we go?
“Let’s ask don Vincenzo”, said one of my friends. He was a priest in a Parish on the outskirts of Turin: Vallo. His first answer was negative, but while we were still thinking of another solution, the phone rang: it was don Vincenzo saying that he had found the right lodging for us. We were overjoyed! And even more so in the following days when this same priest, while we were still in the old flat, made sure that we had all the essential goods at home, week after week. Finally we left the house in Turin and moved to Vallo.
Thirteen years have passed since then, but I will never forget the welcome in those first few days. We were a large family – we had 3 children then, and now 4 – but from the very first moment we felt welcome and accepted with love, as if we were part of the family.
When we reached –with a few things, 3-4 bags – there was a parish house ready for us. There was the kitchen with all the necessary utensils, the living room, and the bedrooms with the beds made. To see that house was something wonderful. Surprisingly beautiful, the children, who were still small, immediately fell in love with it and we really felt at home.
So much so, that sometimes I would ask myself whether I was born at Vallo or in Romania. What had I done to deserve all this love? For sure it was not easy for the community to welcome us and, initially, to help all of us with the required things. There were those who would help us with our stay permits, others would bring us vegetables from their gardens to help us to save on the shopping, or another who would give us advice. There was even a person who accepted that our children’s schoolbooks be paid in instalments.
A year after my last daughter was born, I finally got a permanent job. But… with whom could I leave the baby? A person came forward to take care of her while I was at work, without asking for anything in exchange, and this still continues.
All these, and many other things I have not mentioned, gave rise to a question within me. Why are these people doing all this? With time I understood: they had discovered God who is Love and were trying to respond to his love by loving in return.
I tried it too. I now try to return back this love of God, shown through many persons of my community, by loving the neighbours I meet daily ».