Holidays in Benin City by Paola Galli

I had left Italy with a heavy suitcase full of drugs, baby food, slippers and shoes.  I came back with a little wheelie case almost empty but for a few personal effects and one kilogram of roasted peanuts.    These were for my children as a souvenir of Africa.    

I saw that consumerism had brought all sorts of things to Nigeria: cars, smog, plastic and rubbish.

However, what made me feel bad were the orphanages. I saw misery, loneliness and lack of love in the eyes of those children, and that made my heart weep.  

I felt powerless and would have run away crying with sorrow, but I reacted to everything; and I remained there because, as I said to myself, they needed my smile, my embrace, my cuddles and a kiss.  They were waiting for everything.

I struggled with my inner self, but in the end I won.

Now all that I miss about my journey are the eyes of those babies.

Paola Galli. 

20 September 2010