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We arrived in Rome about 9:00 am. During much of the flight from Chicago a sunrise hung on the horizon. The rising sun was traveling about as fast as the plane so the sunrise blazed for hours. Lovely!
It took quite some time to get through security and baggage claim. We made it to our apartments around noon.
We spent the afternoon at Il Soggiorno. There were perhaps 15-20 men who dropped in. Tim was expecting a small group because we were competing with the 2018 FIFA World Cup (soccer).
I spoke with a young man in a red hat. He is a Pashtun from Pakistan and left his home three years ago. The Taliban came, renamed his hometown and told him he should leave. He had been living with his parents and had a job. Two weeks after the Taliban came his job disappeared. They grabbed him one night, put a blindfold over his eyes and took him ‘someplace’. A friendlier man from the Taliban told him he NEEDS to go now and helped him climb out from a small window. He said ‘I was erased’.
He joined up with others coming from various points and meandering to various destinations. There were about 45 people with him and they walked for 45 days. Some died of heart attacks climbing the mountains. Others fell and were unable to move on. He now sleeps at the Termini Railway Station. He said he feels safe there.
In so many ways he is not unlike many young men. He works some at the car wash. He wants to work in a restaurant, but he needs to speak Italian better. He goes to classes on Mondays to learn Italian but his heart isn’t in it. Honestly he would prefer the Italians learned English! Sounds typical of a young 20-something man right? He played cricket when he was young and enjoyed hockey and basketball. He is left-handed and laughed when I told him that my sister (also left handed) told me lefties are smarter. He misses his parents - a normal young man right?
But he lives on a train station making little money and doesn’t see a way out. He knows he will not ever go back to his home.
I told him I would read up on the Pakistani Army Oppression and go to the market and find ladyfingers (a vegetable that is parrot-green) and brihal, a vegetable that is black and seems to grow on plants about the size of a tomato plant. For me, he promised to be careful and stay safe. As he left his eyes got shiny when he told me thank you for listening to me.
He is an ordinary young man with extraordinary obstacles in his life right now.