Escape Death E3

Novella Miniseries


Fictional events based on actual crisis



Alternating between kicking with their feet and resting on the wooden planks, the girls are losing their grip. Determined not to see another family member perish, Bello rips his garments and tethers them to the floating planks.

All eventually make it to an Italian beach. They lay on the sand like tourists for an hour before continuing. With most of their possessions lost at sea, Bello has only a couple thousand dollars in an Italian bank account. Hotels and food will quickly deplete all resources. So they purchase tarps, blankets, pots, and pans to sleep outdoors beneath an overpass.

After hunkering down for the night, they all sleep well into the next midday. Bello ventures out to buy some bread, cheese, and juice for them to eat. When he returns, they strategize their next steps.

“We are not the first immigrants in the world. Many arrive at their destinations with far less and succeed. Consider it a blessing to be here.” Bello then offers a prayer of thanks.


Tafari says he can find odd jobs doing various repairs. But he will need tools. So they agree to invest some of their money in a toolbox for him.

“We do not just want to lay in these tents while others provide. We can wash windows or sweep in front of local shops for extra money,” the children offer.

Bello is proud of everyone’s initiative. “There are many hospitals in the Province of Catanzaro. I will try to get a job as a janitor in one of them. When I do, it will be the area to which we relocate.


For the next week, everyone follows through with their plans. They are able to earn enough from odd jobs to eat and stay warm.

Beginning with Villa del Sole, Bello seeks work. He then visits Mt Societa’ A Responsabilita’ Limitata. Working his way further inland until he receives a position mopping floors and cleaning restrooms.

Bello buys a book to learn Italian. After a month, he feels he can do better on an interview. He pays someone to make up an ID card so he can get on payroll. With this, local hospital experience, a little Italian, and extensive hospital history, he begins interviewing for a better paying janitorial position.

When an interviewer asks about his background, Bello responds, “I have much experience cleaning up operating rooms. I take out the trash, soiled linens, sanitize vertical surfaces, and mop the floor for the next day.”

“What about the anesthesia equipment?” asks the interviewer.

“That comes under the care of the anesthesiologist,” Bello answers in perfect Italian.

“Operating rooms can get much messier than typical restrooms. If you have a desire to clean them, I am happy to hire you,” offers the interviewer.

Bello relocates his family near this new hospital. They are no longer living in tents but dilapidated accommodations must make do until Bello gets enough paychecks. He saves nearly everything he earns in anticipation of medical needs.


The new position gives Bello access to a familiar space—the operating room. Humbling as it is, he cherishes the opportunity to clean, and does it well. So well that he soon leads the team when sanitizing. He then demonstrates an ability to clean rooms by himself.

When Bello returns home from work, he is tired but spends time asking how everyone else is feeling. Ayyana has tried not to complain, but she mentions pelvic pain and bleeding as a result of the trauma in Tigray.

Though Bello is not licensed to practice medicine in Italy, many principles are universal for saving lives. Now he must balance what he knows with what he has access to for the benefit of his family.


The next day, Bello takes some soiled surgical instruments from an operating room to sterilize at home. With a speculum in dim lighting, he performs a pelvic examination on his sister. He is not happy with what he sees.

Sutures are necessary and he gives her over-the-counter pain relievers.

“My dear, you are a brave woman to be tolerating this pain for so long. I will find a way to better care for you,” Bello says.

At work, Bello notices hospital ambulances coming and going. Those working on the trucks sanitize the gurneys and internal surfaces after dropping off patients. Paramedics do so, back at the fire stations. But the hospital has a fleet of ambulances that can sometimes get as messy as an operating room with blood splatter and regurgitation.

So Bello asks his boss about also cleaning the ambulances.

“You are a real glutton for punishment, it seems. By all means, I can make that happen,” she says.

When he returns home that evening, Bello tells Ayyana that he has been blessed again. “I now have access to a fleet of private hospitals. There is much better lighting than at home, along with medical equipment to monitor heart rate and other vitals.”

“Where are these private hospitals?” asks Ayyana.

“They are the ambulances. Though I cannot drive them off of the property, with good timing, I can sneak you in for a better examination,” Bello explains. “Here, I managed to get you some antibiotics so your sutures won’t develop infection.”

His son, Thabo, is happy to hear about access to more medical equipment and supplies. He says, “Dad, I have something to show you.” Lifting his shirt, he reveals a rash over most of his torso.

“How long has this been here?” asks Bello.

“It began small and has spread over the past month,” says Thabo.

Gathering all his children in his arms, Bello says, “You mean the world to me. Do not be afraid to tell me of your pain. We did not come this far for me to lose you. I will get medication for Thabo and examine Naaila’s ears tomorrow.”

The next evening, Bello comes home with an otoscope to examine Naaila. “I also brought you some ear drops. When the inflammation subsides, your hearing should return to normal.

“For you, Thabo, I have an ointment from a dermatologist at the hospital that should begin to clear up the rash.

“Ayyana, I have given much thought to how to arrange a proper examination. It will take good timing, with assistance from Tafari.”

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