Habiba Elaschi is a remarkable woman who has had the talent to reinvent herself in many ways. She is a woman of great inner and outer beauty, a caring and talented individual who is not content to live in her own little world. She sees much work to be done and is intent upon helping others.
Habiba is a political candidate , one among many, in Siracusa, Sicily who are vying for a seat in local government. The streets are strewn with political flyers, head shots of so many candidates, all with different platforms and different promises, but Habiba’s platform is a simple and good one. Habiba, in her own words, wants to truly be “the voice for those who have none.” And there are so many who do not have a voice, who have no political power, who are not even really “seen” by others: the downtrodden, the immigrants and the refugees.
Habiba, who I have profiled on this blog before, came to Italy from Tunisia. And while she holds her Tunisian identity very dear she is well integrated into Italian society, and wants others to feel the same.
” I have lived a rather closed life,” Habiba told me outside at a cafe where we sat in the sun drinking coffee with our good friend Antonino. ” In so many ways I have been preparing for 26 years, for this new role,” she says, referring to her political role. “This has felt like a natural process for me and I feel strong and able to do this. ”
Habiba acknowledges the rampant corruption in Italian politics at all levels, even the local one where it is quite common while asking for someone’s vote, for the person to expect to be paid.
” I don’t need everyone’s vote. I need only good , decent Sicilians to vote for me. People buy votes in Sicily. This is corrupt. But they cannot corrupt everyone in Sicily. I tell people who expect me to pay for their vote ‘I don’t need your vote.’ ”
Habiba’s sincerity is evident. Her warm , brown eyes sparkle. She is a good and gentle soul. She tells me that she is without fear and read for whatever comes next. “This is not a paradise,” she warns. “It is up to us.”
When I ask her what she will do if she does not win, she shrugs her shoulders slightly in that very Sicilian way and gently touches my arm. She smiles and says, “Then, I will simply live my life.”
I she wins a seat as councilor in Siracusa, then there will be so many who will be the better for it.