These are Ileana, Mihai and Robert, Mihai been born by Caesarian in Romania immediately after we begged and got their bus tickets home from Florence, just in time. Being under eighteen and living in a field here, their baby would have been taken from them in Italy. Mihai's widowed mother has just this minute rung the bell and let me photograph this photograph. I am so proud of them for being so proud of themselves and their new-born child! Their mother/mother-in-law asks help for them. She is trying to support them by begging in Florentine streets but wants to be with them instead in Romania as another son of hers is ill. I had sent Ileana back with clothing and a basket for the baby and for Mihai tools for mending the roof of their house. But they need more. Likewise do Luca and Doina for their baby Stefano and his four brothers and sisters. Hedera and Andre and their three I already help. I paid Andre to help rebuild part of Doina's mud house destroyed in the Romanian floods.
Godfriend Karen Graffeo is here in Florence visiting the Muslim Yugoslavian Rom camp with her camera, http://www.umilta.net/karengraffeo.html, and two days ago we had a wonderful long talk with the Imam's wife who was explaining that they now have a workshop for the women who embroider and sew and iron, instead of begging in the streets from tourists, describing how they used to sleep under bridges, then in trailers, and now they have houses, and suggesting we do the same for these Romanian Orthodox Rom. To whom we could teach paper-marbling as we already have done to Romanian Hedera so she can help support her three children, Robert, Nadia and Leonardo.
Yesterday, a group of art students from Edinburgh University came, as they are studying book-binding with Enrico Giannini and I was teaching them paper marbling, then continued myself, making sheets and sheets of marbled blue with spots of gold. Gorgeous! These sheets will make great book bindings and end-papers. The green in the right corner is Hedera's and is already bound as cover to Elizabeth Barrett Browning's sonnets and Ballad, set in William Morris type.
Tomorrow, in the Medici's Fortezza da Basso, I give a talk on the 'Alphabet of Peace', 'L'alfabeto della pace'. I shall be talking about the fear and ignorance leading to terrible wars, concerning the alphabet, which is one family, all three sacred Books, the Bible, the Gospel, the Koran, being written in its ancient and brilliant Semitic phonetic technological invention, likewise the sacred books of Tibet and India being in variations of that alphabet, the Runes of the Etruscans reaching all the way to Iceland. But also how we holocausted Jews because they had the original Semitic alphabet and our own derived from it, and likewise the Aryan gypsies from India, because they are illiterate. And how that illiteracy allows the genocide to continue amongst the Rom today. They cannot by law have their babies unless we teach them how to sign their names to legal documents. Just as American Black slaves were not allowed to learn to read or write but did so clandestinely, Frederick Douglass (The Autobiography of an Ex-Slave) coming here straight from the railway station to pay tribute to the anti-Slavery preacher Theodore Parker whose tomb is in this cemetery. The Romanian Rom were slaves of the Orthodox monasteries from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century. I think we could call this project to save Rom babies for their families, 'Project Miriam'.
Julia Bolton Holloway, Hermit of the Holy Family
Biblioteca e Bottega Fioretta Mazzei, 'English Cemetery'
Piazzale Donatello, 38, 50132 FIRENZE, ITALY
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