Scenes and stories from a small town in the hills of Italy's Le Marche region

"Nigeria to Italy" continued . . .

Unidentified man stops by the tabacchiera shop in Piazza Roma to buy his morning newspaper. Photo by Keaton Williams

After six years living in Camerano, she says she still doesn’t have many friends and that conversation usually does not go much further than “Ciao”. When she moved into her apartment, she says, one of the tenants kindly greeted her and her husband and told them to ask if they needed anything. But the warm welcome wore off quickly, she says, when she gave birth to her first child and no one congratulated her.

“When they come to me, they ask me ‘Why do you come here?’, ‘Are you dying of hunger in your country?’, I say I’m from Nigeria. They don’t even know my country. The Africans they show in the television walk without shoes and they are naked; I’m not from that kind of Africa. I came to stay here not because of hardship. I’m not dying of hunger, I came here because I’d like to stay here,” Okwuike said.

Okwuike still returns to Nigeria to visit relatives even though it’s not the safest country and is a lot harder now that she has children.

Three years ago, was the last time she went back and returned unscathed. Another time she wasn’t that lucky. “They blocked our car and they beat me up and collected all my jewelry. They wanted to take our car, but there was no fuel. They looked at the dashboard and it was showing red. My husband’s brother told us that when you are moving around the city to put in very little fuel so they don’t take your car,” recalled Okwuike.

She still hopes that one day Nigeria will be a place of peace. Most of her relatives live there, and she says if it becomes a safe place to live, she would be happy to return.

Until then, Theresa Okwuike will be trying to adjust to the small-town life in hopes of meeting more immigrants like herself and acceptance from the people of Camerano.



>>go to "From Nigeria to Italy" page 1

Unidentifed biker takes a ride around Piazza Roma on July 20. Photo by Keaton Williams

Camerano locals gather in Piazza Roma. Strolling is a common evening activity in town. Photo by Keaton Williams

Three ladies take an evening walk through Piazza Roma. Photo by Keaton Williams

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