Episode 109: Katja Meier on Running a Refugee Home in a Tuscan Village

Listen to Katja Meier here.

Without doubt this episode with Katja Meier stands out as one of the very special ones. Katja and I become “Instagram friends” (follow Katja on @anythingtuscan), meaning, we liked each other’s posts and commented on each other’s pics. When Katja told me about her book Across the big Blue Sea: Good Intentions and Hard Lessons in an Italian Refugee Home, I thought, I have to know more. Even if knowing more meant flying to Italy to meet her for myself!

Katja and her family generously took me into their home and that is where we recorded this conversation. Here is a little more about her incredible book and visit Katja’s site to learn more about the pressing issues she talks about in the episode…

Thousands of people risk crossing the treacherous waters of the Mediterranean Sea each year. But what happens if they make it to the other side?

On a hot July day, the Italian coast guard rescues five young Nigerian women in a battered boat. At the same time, Katja Meier is put in charge of a small refugee home in the Tuscan countryside. But a quaint hilltop town with an aged population wasn’t exactly where the five young women had hoped to land.

 Good intentions quickly get lost in cultural misunderstandings and the shadows of Italy’s criminal underworld as an improvised social worker confronts hard truths about disorganized charities, insurmountable bureaucracy and prostitution on cypress-lined roads. How can she make a difference when Nigerian girls keep disappearing?

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Buy Across the Big Blue Sea here or ask for it at your local bookstore.