Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Enzo and Jennifer

Out on the rooftop terrace, this evening, as the cool night air kicked in.

Enzo and Jennifer (born in Chicago) live in Southern Italy, on the olive farm of Enzo's family.  Probably in their early 30's, they met through their respective work for NGO's.

Collectively (I lost track), they'd lived/worked in Angola, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Darfur, Uganda, Rwanda, and ... who knows how many other places.

They were traveling from Mexico (an acquaintance's wedding in the Mexican Yucatan town of Akumal), overland, through to Costa Rica.

Enzo was likely heading for Syria, next.  I asked about Libya, in the post-Khadaffi era.  He spoke of the usual combination of hope, fear, and chaos.

When I asked what he did, there, he described heading a project to organize and run four detention centers, each of which housed illegal immigrants, captured IN Libya, on their way from all of Africa, up through to the Mediterranean, where the lucky few (who hadn't died on their journey) would sail to Southern Italy, in hopes of finding work in Europe.

Like so many immigrants' stories, though, Enzo described horrifying tales of death in the desert, capture-escape-re-capture from detention camps, death on the Mediterranean voyage, and capture and detention in Italy.

Often taking years and years ... with no hope of repatriation or the promise of a new life in Europe.

Politically hugely complicated, to be sure, but that was neither Enzo's nor my interest.  We just talked of the human element involved, the desperation he (and Jennifer) had seen, and their efforts to do good within unimaginably complex situations.

Jennifer threw in the towel, and is now teaching yoga near their Italian village.  Enzo may have one more good run in him.

Or, he'll do the olive thing on the family farm ;-)

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