[Italy] From Roma Camp to Bakery: Adriana's Leap into a New Life

11 Sep 2019
Vatican News

Adriana is 23 years old. She has a job, home, family and friends. However, it took her a long time to get there. She is Roma, born in Italy, to a Serbian mother and Croatian father. All her life she has travelled from one place to another, hoping to be welcome someplace. Her mother, struggling to take care of her six children, committed petty theft and begged. The family washed windows at traffic lights and slept on the street. Adriana considered herself lucky when she could sleep at a police station or in a hospital emergency room.

A turning point came for the family when Adriana’s mother found God through the Evangelical Church. Her mother decided to leave the Roma lifestyle behind. Sadly, her father was released from prison at this time, and he forced the family to relocate to Spain, after which they returned to Italy, and then moved to France. Adriana remembers how members of the Church were kind to her, but she did not have the same experience in the French school system. Classmates would laugh at her Roma tattoo, and teachers treated her differently. The authorities wanted to separate the family and force the mother to return to Serbia, but the family went on the move again.

They ended up sleeping in a car in Italy, and realised their father had abandoned them again. They were invited to a Roma camp where they would have to live by the camp’s rules, including sending children out to steal. Adriana’s mother refused and luckily the Don Bosco Centre found temporary housing for the family. Adriana, then 17, got a cooking internship. In 2014, she obtained her middle school diploma, and got her first job at a café in Rome. She loves cooking, and learned how to run a small kitchen. She enjoyed the feeling of earning her own money. She felt discriminated against by Italians, but she endured. A year later, the family was offered an apartment with a regular lease, which meant finally having a real bed, kitchen and bathroom for Adriana. A friend of the family, a priest, helped her find a job at a bakery. She adores chatting with the locals, listening to their stories, and even telling them her redemption journey.


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