Selected Works

Nonfiction
A look at life in little-known mountain towns of the Sicilian hinterlands.
A true account of the last years of an ancient Sicilian giant bluefin tuna trap.






Tags

Out of Palermo

Sicilians offer swimming, diving lessons to refugees traumatized by their sea crossing

July 16, 2017

Tags: trauma, fear, water, swim, scuba, dive, immigrants, sicilians, warm, heart, empathy, compassion, refugees, crossing, Mediterranean

From the Washington Post:
By Michael Birnbaum July 15 at 7:12 PM
MESSINA, Italy — Abdoulie Jallow lives on the Sicilian coast, but until recently, looking at the Mediterranean Sea filled him with dread.
The azure water reminded the 17-year-old Gambian of his journey from Libya last year, a middle-of-the-night departure on an overcrowded dinghy in which he had to abandon himself to his faith in God. (more…)

As Gianfranco Rosi collects Golden Bear, 943 more African immigrants rescued at sea

February 22, 2016

Tags: Fuocoammare, Fire at Sea, Gianfranco Rosi, documentary, Lampedusa, immigrants, refugees, boats, mediterranean, crossing, rescue, Europe, africa, cinema, golden bear, prize, director, lampedusa

While documentary filmmaker Gianfranco Rosi was celebrating his win in Berlin for his documentary Fuocoammare ( Fire at Sea) about the people of Lampedusa accepting and caring for African immigrants, nearly a thousand more immigrants were arriving on the island's shores.
It was a weekend of life saving at sea off the coast of Libya, according to La Repubblica (more…)

Archbishop Lorefice took in four Nigerian immigrants

December 30, 2015

Tags: immigration, Corrado Lorefice, adopt, refugees, family, children, live, palace, archbishop, mercy, kindness, Palermo, sicily, sicilia, rescue, life, shelter, home

Palermo's brand new Archbishop Corrado Lorefice has installed four Nigerian refugees in the bishop's residence, the diocese's incredible palace across from the cathedral on Via Vittorio Emanuele: a young Nigerian woman, and a Nigerian mother of two small children.
He encouraged others to do the same, especially in this Year of Mercy as prescribed (more…)

Letter to her congressman

September 9, 2015

Tags: leter, congressman, immigration, solution, refugees, help, United States of America

The Syrian boy, now a symbol of all refugees and immigrants
The 85-year-old mother of my friend Naomi wrote this letter to her congressman in support of immigrants seeking new homes, new lives.

US Congressman Sam Farr
Washington, D.C.


Dear Sam Farr,

I am writing today to make a case as best as I can to reverse the current American paralysis towards the Syrian, Eritrean, Afghanistani refugees as they walk, hide swim, are trunked in cars to escape the seemingly never ending middle Eastern wars.

I speak from experience: I was in the same situation 70 years ago: expelled by the Nazis, my parents tried desperately to get entry into European and American countries – to no avail. By fortuitous circumstances, Shanghai proved to be an open door (nobody had thought to close it) and about 20,000 Polish, German, Austrian, Czech Jews survived the war there .But 13 of my immediate family members who did not choose to escape were gassed, murdered or shot in Vienna and Czechoslovakia.

It is this stark today, perhaps worse. Today’s refugees have been in camps; they’ve been bombed;
they’ve been passed on from jihadist group to new jihadist groups.

In the 1930’s I wondered why nobody fought to let us in. Today , I am luckily on the other side
I am a bystander who looks on from afar.

I have seen the triumph of immigrants here . I wont allow the new Trumpifying of them . Right here ,in Carmel, the owner of a cleaning establishment is Korean, the owner of the bagel bakery is Cambodian, another cleaning establishment is owned by a Chinese; a girl behind the desk of my swim club is Salvadorian: we absorb immigrants. They contribute to diversification. They blend in.

So.I cant believe that America built by immigrants , stands idly by when the stream of refugees heading towards Europe is growing ;when there is no end of war in sight. In fact,
America, by not bombing Syrian chemical facilities (Obama’s red line ) has allowed the war to continue.

In the 1970’s at the end of the Vietnamese war we took in 140,000. We should do this again. We should take political leadership – together with the United Nations, together with the Pope – to take immediate action .There is a promise to take in 5 to 7,000 refugees next year according to the NYTimes
(9/6/2015). Not enough.

All it needs is political will and organization. We can fly over there and register thousands and airlift them or put them on boats ; start the process of rehabilitation – first in transit camps which should include language classes & health exams; followed by vocational training with plans to disburse the new arrivals throughout the country. We should encourage Saudi Arabia ,the Gulf States
to do same.We should start a refugee peace corps- give college credits to youngsters who are looking for a cause.

If we turn our backs on this situation, we will be creating more terrorists: and more
significantly, we are turning our backs on our own history.

Please distribute this letter as widely as you can………………

Sincerely,
Lotte Marcus

40,000 immigrants to Sicily this year, 4,000 arrived just this week.

July 19, 2015

Tags: immigrants, refugees, sicily, overcrowded, sent away, mediterranean, africa, sicily, italy, pushback laws, rejected, palermo, too much, too many

The most recent arrivals have been turned away and sent to Sardinia and Calabria because Sicilian immigrant "reception" centers, where immigrants are housed and fed while their fates are decided-- accepted as refugee or sent back to Africa -- are overcrowded and not up to the job of accepting or deferring waves of thousands of arrivals. (more…)

Syrian girl, 10, dead because traffickers threw away her insulin

July 18, 2015

Tags: syrian, baby, girl, dead, insulin, refugees, syria, sicily, Egyptian, traffickers, greed, murder, mediterranean, sea, graveyard

A ten-year-old diabetic girl escaping war in Syria boarded a wooden vessel with her father, who has a degree in economics, and her sisters, headed for the Italian coast. They were 320 people squashed together like sardines. The traffickers made more room by throwing the little girl's day pack into the sea. It contained vials of insulin (more…)

The poor give to the Poor. BRAVI!!

July 12, 2015

Tags: falsomiele, palermo, poor, immigrants, refugees, welcome, gifts, clothes, food, shelter, generous, big-hearted, imigration, Mediterranean Sea, morti, dead, drowned, shipwreck

In just under 24 hours, one of the poorest and toughest neighborhoods of Palermo mobilized to welcome and care for the 717 refugees, including survivors of shipwreck, who arrived in Palermo yesterday, according to La Repubblica. Volunteers from the Falsomiele neighborhood brought clothes, shoes and tee shirts to distribute to thewomen and children, people who arrived, (more…)

New arrivals

June 30, 2015

Tags: refugees, palermo, ports, ireland, ship, mediterranean, arrivals

An Irish military ship , Le Eithne, picked up 647 migrants in trouble at sea and brought them to Palermo. Among them were 95 women, two of whom were pregnant. A group of 180 migrans were transferred by ferry from Lampedusa to Porto Empedocle where they will arrive this evening.

Wealthy family saves immigrants' lives at sea, regularly

May 17, 2015

Tags: MOAS, refugees, immigrants, africa, Italy, ship, Phoenix, save, lives, humanitarian, wealth, good, people

From La Repubblica 16 May 2015 online edition:

The 120-foot ship Phoenix, working for the non-governmental organization MOAS, pulled into the port of Messina, Sicily with 405 migrants aboard.MOAS stands for Migrant Offshore Aid Station. The United States ship belongs to a wealthy couple, Regina and Christopher Catrambone, involved in a philanthropic and humanitarian mission to (more…)

Nearly 4,000 refugees rescued at sea over the weekend.

May 4, 2015

Tags: sicilia, sicily, recue, refugees, sea, birth, newborn, francesca marina, emergency, forever, immigration, wave, non stop

Nearly 4,000 boat people from Africa were saved over the weekend. The ships of the Italian navy were employed in the continuous, non-stop rescue operations in the Mediterranean, aiding boats and rafts in trouble in the waters of the Strait of Sicily, between Lampedusa and Libya, bringing the survivors to the ports of Augusta, Reggio (more…)

Migraton flow to Lampdusa

April 14, 2015

Tags: migration, illegal, clandestine, immigrants, Bossi-Fini law, pushback, deaths, mercy, change law, european union, mediterranean, refugees, africa, war, despots, massacres, religious freedom, escape, hope, scared, fear, danger, graveyard, water, sea, swim, bad boats, trafficking, human trafficking

Once again, there are now 1400 refugees and immigrants for whatever reason in an intake camp with only 250 beds. The Lampedusa holding center had been closed last year because of scandalous overcrowding, poor conditions, bad management and degrading treatment of arrivals (making people strip naked publicly to be sprayed for scabies and such). Volunteers -- (more…)

Plight of the Immigrants

March 8, 2015

Tags: refugees, sicily, boat people, Italy, Mediterranean, crossing, immigration, clandestine, voyage, treacherous

By June of 2014, 59,880 migrants had landed on Italy's coast, more than arrived in all of 2011, and Sicily got 53,000 of them. All of them were treacherous voyages. Thousands of minors arrived without any family. They paid an average of $1,600 to board a broken-down fishing boat packed with 300 people, and no life vests. Life vests take up room. (more…)

"It is a delirium," says mayor of Lampedusa

February 17, 2015

Tags: refugees, immigrants, boats, mediterranean, graveyard, emergency, influx, people, shipwreck, rescue, death, drowning, rubber boats, Lampedusa, Agrigentino

Two hundred arrivals at Pozzallo yesterday. Another 642 expected to land at Porto Empedocle today. The immigration center at the island of Lampedusa, which had been closed down because of the worst conditions, de-staffed and opened only for emergencies is now back in use, run by a non-profit. They have 250 beds but 1,215 people to house (more…)

The Immigrants who Risk Their Lives to Get to Sicily

February 16, 2015

Tags: refugees, immigrants, boats, mediterranean, graveyard, emergency, influx, people, shipwreck, rescue, death, drowning, rubber boats

They risk everything to arrive with nothing as clandestine refugees who cross the Mediterranean, now become a graveyard for thousands like them.

More than 300 dead

February 11, 2015

Tags: tragedy, sicily, refugees, death toll, lampedusa, frontex, triton

More than 300 dead. The 29 bodies were just those that were recovered. There four gommoni, large rubber rafts, in the worst seas the Italian coast guard had ever seen. The survivors said they were forced to leave Libya at gunpoint. The 29 bodies were PEOPLE WHO HAD BEEN RESCUED off the coast of Libya but died (more…)

29 Body Bags full of Cadavers of Refugees

February 10, 2015

Tags: immigration, africa, sicily, europe, frontex, boat, freeze, refugees, dead, froze, rescue, emergency, wave, europe, italy, sicily, sicilia

Twenty-nine people died of exposure to the cold on a rescue from the sea. They died while being rushed to Lampedusa, the Sicilian island closest to Africa. They were rescued from some of the worst conditions at sea, waves twenty feet high.

Update: here is the story in the NYT:
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/10/ (more…)

What you are not seeing in American media

February 9, 2015

Tags: refugees, desperate, dead, cold, 20-foot waves, africa, immigration, emergency, Libia, Lampedusa

Voyages of desperation. The Mediterranean is a graveyard for people trying to escape, war, famine, cruel dictators and genocide at the hands of Boko Haram.

Eternal Embrace

May 16, 2014

Tags: naufragio, refugees, dead, drown, shipwreck, heart, embrace, undersea, Sicily, Mediterranean, racist, grave, cemetery, marine, coast guard, documentary, film, video, European Union, laws, care, love, death

Watery grave, heart's embrace

This is a freeze frame from a video taken by Italian Coast Guard rescue and recovery divers of two refugees who died embraced on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea just off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa on Oct. 3, 2013, after the worst tragedy in those seas since 2000. Three hundred sixty-six people drowned together that day.
In this picture, two of them face each in what was left of their embrace. The empty space between them forms a heart. They died (more…)

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