She’s from a small village in China, just outside the northern city of Dalian. She left her family early and arrived as a young girl in Italy on that ship. She and her sisters had traveled a long way.
When I met her in Rome, I didn’t know where she was from. We didn’t know that we would be going back to her home. My travel plans had brought us together. I didn’t choose her for any reason, she was just like the others. We traveled for 30 days from Russia to China. Arriving in Dalian, a friend brought us, by coincidence, back to her home. In that factory 20 kilometers from the city, in the village of Yingkou (营口), 100 women were making shirts. They were just like her.
In Italy, like in many countries, cheap clothing is imported from China. A tide of low-price products fills the European market. Headlines like “The Yellow Monster Has Awoken!” plaster the pages of Italian newspapers. I came to see this “monster of production” wearing “her”—the shirt made just like the ones at this factory.
The 100 women employed at this factory called Yingkou Pangkids work six to seven days a week for 2000 RMB a month. They sleep on bunk beds in eight-person dorms. The clothes they make are for Mauli, one of Italy’s largest clothing suppliers.