Lizbeth Salas, Lima Perù – Castelnovo Monti
I left Peru at the age of 19. Kiara was just two and a half years old and I left her with my parents. My mother got me a Portuguese passport through an agency, but when I got to Madrid I found out it was fake. I managed to hide it in one of my coat sleeves and I still have it. Four people in our group were detained and I was scared…
I came to Italy by train, travelling at night because I thought it wouldn’t be as risky. I was in a sleeping compartment with two nuns who watched over me like guardian angels until we reached Milan. I then took a train by myself as far as Reggio Emilia and a coach to Castelnovo ne’ Monti. It seemed like the journey would never end. It was March 2000 and it was raining really hard here. I’d never seen thunder and lightning like it. A kind gentleman approached me and took me to see my aunt.
I needed to start again and build myself a new life. Lima’s a chaotic, unruly city and I could never have done it there: I’d already had far too much pain inflicted on me. I drew a line under my time there.
I had a fresh beginning here, including on the employment front. Nonetheless, my heart was still in Peru. I was worried about the problems that might crop up and that Kiara’s dad might stop her from joining me here.
The people that helped me the most were the family of the man who’s now my husband. They welcomed me, supported me and gave me tips on studying, working and the next steps to take.
It wasn’t easy living and working in such a small town. I was the butt of thoughtless jokes that made me feel like even more of an outsider and I was feeling so wretched that I wanted to go back to Peru. I was terrified and I still hadn’t overcome the trauma of what I’d been through before, but I decided to take the plunge and embark on a relationship with the person who turned out to be the love of my life. We got married and with the help of my father-in-law I managed to get together all of the paperwork required to bring my daughter over here.
I found my redemption here among the mountains. In Peru it was considered a disgrace for me to have a child at the age of 17 and no qualifications. My parents kept it a secret from the rest of my relatives. I went through some very tough times. Here I’ve found a big, kind-hearted family and a husband who’s given me stability. I finished my education, I work as a dental assistant and I have my daughter alongside me, or rather our daughter because my husband is first and foremost a father to Kiara. Her grandmother is a retired teacher who gave her a hand with her school work and her loving grandfather is always there for her and strict when he needs to be.
It fills my heart with joy to see that my parents are proud of me. Hearing my daughter say “If mum did it, so can I” and watching her follow my lead makes all of the hard work worthwhile.
I no longer feel like much of an outsider. I’ve really tried to reach out to people, get to know them, come out of my shell and break down those pointless barriers that sometimes come between people. I’m happy and I can finally enjoy a little peace of mind.