Emilia Quartey, Ghana – Castelnovo Monti
I joined my father in Italy because I had serious health problems when I was a child. He’d started a new family in Reggio Emilia. My mother was alone back in Ghana and I completely lost touch with her. She thought I was dead. It wasn’t until many years later that I was reunited with her. We spent the whole night together, crying and hugging. She isn’t with us anymore…
I had serious health issues and coming to Italy was my only hope. I had a very bad form of anaemia and this was the only place where I stood a chance of getting the right treatment. I wouldn’t have survived in Ghana. It was a very tough time and I found myself growing up with strangers. I was young, scared and constantly pushed from pillar to post because I had to stay with friends after my father decided to go back to Africa in 2002.
I grew up fast and circumstances contrived to make my entrance into the adult world an early one.
Pregnancy proved to be both the most difficult and the most rewarding experience in my whole life. Thanks to some wonderful people that I met in the maternity unit, I was taken in by a family in Correggio. They were part of the Case della Carità circuit, which provides homes for those in need. It meant that I was able to take care of myself for a few relatively carefree months, until I finished what I had decided to do: give my child up for adoption.
Straight after she was born, a nurse placed Alessandra in my arms and at that very moment something magical happened. I decided that I wanted to keep her at any cost. I was very weak and unemployed, but I was determined. The people that I had around me supported me in everything I did.
I decided to move into the Casa di Carità in Cagnola (Castelnovo ne’ Monti) and spend my daughter’s early days there, along with the nuns and the other residents.
I remember that I arrived late one evening and they’d all already finished their dinner. They’d kept mine warm for me but I was afraid to put my daughter in her cot and leave her alone. There were lots of people there every day and they were all keen to take care of the baby or do something nice for her. As well as food and shelter, in my new home I found people who were always there for us and looked after us. Most importantly, I found comfort in profound faith that made me realize that all experiences – even bad ones – have positive sides. If you manage to look at them from the right perspective, you’ll often find something wonderful about them that makes everything better.
I found a big family and I have to say that I am – and we are – very lucky. Everything that I did not get from my father and his wife when I was a child, I have received from this big community in the mountains, along with a warm welcome, support and affection.
I have nothing to offer in tangible terms. I pray hard and ask the Lord to be close to them. I know that one day Alle will make these people proud on my behalf.
I’ve now finally found a job and I can fend for myself. I know that people will be there for Alle if anything happens to me. She’s made me into a better person.