Here is the story of Nada: one of the participants in the LIME Project pilot action, implemented by CIES Onlus, in Rome.
Nada is a 31-year old Yemeni girl, who has moved to Italy with her mom, almost four years ago. ALDA’s team had an interesting conversation with Nada, during which we have learnt more about her life and her experience in the program:
How was your arrival in Italy?
The start of Nada’s journey in Italy was not easy, as it is expected for anyone who is new to the country. “For any person who is leaving his country, for whatever reason, it’s hard… whether it is to work, to immigrate, to study… you always need to learn the language, explore the culture, meet people, make friends, you have to create a whole new life! You are like a baby that has to learn everything now!” explained Nada.
What were the obstacles or struggles that you faced in Italy?
“When I arrived, the first barrier was the language, because not so many people speak English in Italy” answered Nada. She further explained that this made it hard for her to communicate and to express herself and her needs. Therefore, she immediately decided to start learning Italian in a language school.
The bureaucracy in Italy was another thing that Nada struggled with since when she first arrived in Italy. The long process of requesting residency and issuing all other official documents for a new migrant took a long time and a lot of effort. As the latter may be a problem for many other people in Italy, Nada faced difficulties specifically in finding a job due to being a hijabi (a Muslim woman who wears a scarf/veil) at that time. “I was wearing a scarf for almost eight months but I could not find a job … when I came here, I did not see many girls with veil working in restaurants or in hotels…I knocked many doors to find ways to start a job, and one day I was talking to my teacher, and I asked him what do you think? Will I be able to find work when I finish? He said: to be honest, it will be very hard for a girl with hijab to find a job… I didn’t want to do it, but it was not a choice, I either take it off or I won’t find a job” Nada explained. However, wearing a scarf was not a problem for Nada in terms of meeting people and socializing. “They are friendly to you as a hijabi girl, they talk to you, they compliment the colors of your scarf for example, but when it comes to work… they are not that open…so I finally took it off and I found a job… many jobs!”
How did you join the LIME Project?
Nada joined the LIME Pilot Action in Italy upon a friend’s recommendation. She always had an entrepreneurial spirit and was always motivated to start her own business one day. Owing to the fact that Nada has joined so many similar projects before, and was not completely satisfied with the outcomes, she was a bit reluctant and afraid to join this time, however, things completely changed after. “It was a last minute decision, I was not sure if they were going to accept me or not, I was not very enthusiastic at the beginning because I have joined so many projects before… but joining the LIME program went smoothly and it was so easy that it encouraged me to continue…they (CIES Onlus) were very understanding” said Nada.
How was the content of the program?
Nada is very satisfied with the content of the program. She explained that the clarity of the action plan was something she appreciated a lot. CIES staff has explained the project in general, the desired outcomes, the action plan, the timeline, the activities and the way to proceed forward. “This made me know that it will be a good project, I can judge a project from the first day because I have been in many projects before, so I felt calm” said Nada.
What was your final aim from joining the entrepreneurship path of LIME Project?
“To be honest, when I first started, I knew I wanted something but I didn’t know what it exactly was”.
These were Nada’s first words when she answered this question. However, the guidance that she has received, allowed her to have a clearer vision of her final goal. “I didn’t know if it is achievable, if I can do it or not, I needed someone who is an expert… when I joined the program I found answers, I had one idea in mind but it was not so clear, but day by day, as we talked about it, it started developing, and now I have something to start my project in the catering sector!” explained Nada.
Are you satisfied with the final results?
It’s easy to feel Nada’s happiness when she said “When I started my only aim was to succeed in the project so that they select me for business sponsorship, but then I thought to myself that even if they do not choose me, I learnt a lot, I found answers that I never thought I will find”.
The project has enlightened Nada in terms of business development and has taught her so many things that will be useful for her future career. She is now motivated and ready to start her own business “It became so clear in my mind that I am good at it and I am ready…the idea that I have had with some friends was to start something in the catering sector, but we were just talking, we did not work enough nor read enough about it, we always blamed our luck or Italy or the projects… but when I started the program and we were brainstorming and they were asking me questions… it became clearer, now I think I have all the needed details for my project, starting from the small ones such as me as a person…what I want, to all the other wider details” explained Nada.
How did Covid-19 affect your learning journey?
In the beginning, it was hard for Nada, who has never taken online classes and who did not believe in the efficiency of online learning, to adapt. “I personally thought before that it was useless to study online, if you do not see the person teaching you, you will not learn much” said Nada. However, with the encouragement of CIES educators, she managed to make the best out of it. “I decided to do it and it worked… I remember at the beginning I was always giving connection related excuses to avoid attending online classes but eventually we all managed to learn together… of course it’s not like being in class but it is still good, because they are organized” explained Nada.
Nada hopes that she will always find such support when she launches her business in the near future. She encourages anyone moving to a new country to first learn the local language and to never be afraid to take a step forward. Her advice is to never give up and always be prepared to start from zero.
We are so happy to have met such an enthusiastic soul and we wish Nada a prosperous future!