Breaking Free: A Woman's Journey

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"Breaking Free : A Woman's journey " retraces the life of Rosa, a young girl from Cuggiono, Italy, who follows her husband to the iron mines of Missouri and eventually escapes to Chicago where she finds shelter at the Commons.

Oct. 26, PBS
"Breaking Free: A Woman's Journey."
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She becomes famous for her storytelling and eventually meets Marie Hall Ets, a social worker who for many years records Rosa's life.

In 1970 professor Rudolph Vecoli director of the Immigration History Research Center of Minneapolis publishes the memories under the name of
"Rosa, the life of an Italian Immigrant" by Marie Hall Ets

The book details the daily life in Cuggiono and actually in many parts of Lombardy in the late 1800s as seen through the eyes of a young woman. In the evenings people gathered in the stables to find some warmth around the animals and told incredible stories.

Rosa listened and eventually retold them at the Commons. Marie Hall Ets also hears the troubled story of her life in the mining camps of Missouri, her escape from the tyrant husband to Chicago where she experiences more difficulties.

At the end, though, Rosa is peaceful with her inner religious strength and the powerful feeling of the people who have learned not to be afraid.

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Per PBS:

In the world they left behind, women were second-class citizens, dominated by law and custom by men. Some feared for their lives. Others were searching for new opportunities.

Guatemala native Rodi Alvarado fled after a decade of beatings by her husband. Her petition for political asylum may become a landmark case. If she is granted asylum, she will be the first woman in America to win a case of precedential value.

Rosa Cavalleri left Italy in 1887, a simple woman married to a brutal husband. Today, she is celebrated in her home town as a woman who challenged tradition, who broke away and made a new life for herself in America.

Ferdows Naficy and her two daughters, Mahnaz and Farah became independent women in America. Their story of why and how they left Iran is a chilling, instructive tale of what it takes to break free.

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Copyright © 2005 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.
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Destination America


Recommended Reading

Rosa by Marie Hall Ets

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