Mary poses for a portrait inside the Cinema Museum in Turin. Although she has come to Turin often, she has never visited a museum. It was the first time she had seen the Mole Antonelliana, symbol of the city and home of the Cinema Museum. Turin, September 2018.
Mary has been living at the cohousing for five months now. She has new friends and although she only has one room and has to share the kitchen and other communal spaces, she gets on very well. Her situation is improving, the bureaucratic situation remains to be sorted out. Turin, August 2022.
For Mary, religion is a very important and sensitive subject, we often discuss the fact that I'm an atheist, which she does not approve of at all. She is a Pentecostal Christian and lives her relationship with God with a very strong intimacy. She prays often, every day. When she lived in Nigeria she also sang in a church choir she attended. Chivasso, May 2018.
Kate suffered several tortures in Libya for trying to escape from her jailers. She carries the still painful wounds on her body. Broken bones and scars that have cost her numerous surgeries in Italy to be able to even walk again. Chivasso, June 2018.
Mary is housed in the house of the lady who ran the African market near Chivasso station. This lady rents her a room at an outrageous price considering the area where the house is located and the condition of the house itself. Mary has her whole world inside this room. She is still undocumented and it will be a long process to obtain a new refugee status. Turin, February 2020.
Mary shows signs of Libya on her body, of the exploitation she was subjected to and the voodoo ritual she underwent before leaving for Europe. She has a story no different from the thousands of other girls imprisoned in hot spots and forced into prostitution to pay off the debt contracted for the journey. A debt that strangles them and forces them to be trafficked. San Sebastiano da Po, May 2018.
Mary and her roommates during a birthday party for their friend's daughter. I had never been to a birthday party of the Nigerian community before. It was an intense experience. Chivasso, May 2018.
Mary jealously preserves this photo. It's the only photo of her mum with her and her brother. Her mother unfortunately died when she was still a child and Mary grew up with her grandmother in a house outside the city. Chivasso, May 2018.
The birthday party was organized for the son of Justina, one of the girls hosted in the Mary Poppins project. The baby boy, who is one year old, is dressed in the traditional clothes of Edo State, where her mother comes from. The party is full of food and music, a celebration in which there was no shortage of long speeches of blessing for the little birthday boy. Chivasso, May 2018.
Sometimes the days never seem to go by and we are often bored at home doing nothing. There are not always activities to do. Going out for walks without a destination is not taken into consideration and every now and then it seems to me that even the activities proposed by Mary Poppins are not always welcome, so often it is the smartphone or the computer that is the only amusement. Chivasso, June 2018.
Mary and Kate are preparing for another birthday party for a friend of theirs who is in the Mary Poppins shelter project. The house provided is just outside the town, more towards the countryside and is a spacious and quiet place to stay. Chivasso, July 2018.
Mary would like to open a beauty salon, she is saving up money to be able to attend a school vocational school that can prepare her and get her into the world of cosmetics. She loves doing braids and taking care of her nails. Chivasso, June 2018.
Mary and Kate in the Chivasso house as they fix their hair and get ready to leave. Chivasso, July 2018.
Kate, like many other girls, also has a story behind her filled with sadness. Marked by abuse of all kinds, torture and constraints from which it is very difficult to escape if not through a path of protection and disclosure that often puts one's own family at risk. Chivasso, May 2018.
Nigerian parties are a continuous dance, a continuous courtship, the participants are wild and the gestures are explicitly whispered. It is hard not to get involved. Chivasso, May 2018.
Mary has a thousand dreams, desires, hopes. she imagines a future where she can have her son join her and take him away from Nigeria, which she says is a very dangerous place, where the public school leaves you to your own devices without guaranteeing you a real education. Chivasso, May 2018.
20 May is the birthday of Kate, whom everyone calls " Sister Kate". Kate is treated like a queen, all the attention is on her. She prepares herself with meticulous care, taking care of every detail. In the days before, all sorts of food was bought and her friends spent hours cooking and preparing typical Nigerian dishes. Chivasso, May 2018.
In March 2022, after several meetings with Paola, the lawyer who follows her and deals with her criminal and bureaucratic proceedings, Mary manages to obtain a replacement residence permit valid for 6 months. Turin, March 2022.
Birthday party in one of the houses dedicated to welcoming refugees at the Mary Poppins Cooperative. Chivasso, July 2018.
Mary poses for a portrait in the room of her host cohousing. Turin, August 2022.