Bonum Certa Men Certa

Italy visa & residence permit: Albanian Outreachy, Wikimedia & Debian tighten control over woman

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Mar 03, 2024

Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock.

At the time of the Debian Bug Squashing Party (BSP) in early 2018, the Albanian woman told me she was learning Italian and she wanted to spend the summer working as a waitress in Italy. Some cousins were already there and she hoped to live closer to them. In subsequent conversations with this woman, she reminded me of her search for employment in Italy to qualify for a residence permit. Even after working there on a temporary permit in the holiday season, she really wanted to find an ongoing job to qualify for residence.

She was controversially given an Outreachy internship with Debian at the end of 2019.

A few weeks after becoming an Outreachy, the woman from Albania was given a job with Wikimedia Italy. This job would appear to qualify her for a permanent residence in Italy.

According to LinkedIn, she started the Wikimedia job shortly after Outreachy. They have employed her as a community manager or program manager, not as a developer.

The woman told us that she was trained to use basic tools like Git during her Debian-funded Outreachy. Did Debian funds pay to train a woman for another organization? Why can't every volunteer use Debian funds to train their girlfriend to use Git?

The woman's Wikimedia profile states that she has been seconded to OpenStreetmap. Her former boyfriend (before Debian) was from OpenStreetmap Belgium.

Is open source a community of professionals or a community of couples?

Can an organization function effectively and have any hope of achieving its goals when it is saturated with these relationships?

How do new women feel when they arrive at an event and they see the existing women are all girlfriends? Some women tend to adapt themselves into the practices of communal living. Other women simply find it humiliating.

To qualify for an Italian work permit, the employer needs to pay an Italian wage. Italian wages are three times the Albanian wages for a woman with these skills.

Wikimedia regularly tells us they have a shortage of funds with desperate banners on the top of every page. If they really need donations, why are they willing to pay an Albanian worker an Italian salary?

The woman moved to Trento, in the northern mountains. There is no Wikimedia presence there: she chose a location close to her cousins that were already there. She is employed to work remotely. If the job can be done remotely, why did Wikimedia need to sponsor her for a residence permit?

Did Wikimedia advertise this job to see if any unemployed young women already present in Italy would like the job?

The problem with advertising a job is that you might attract people who expect Wikimedia to pay them for time spent travelling to conferences. In fact, payment for both the travel time and the hours at the conference is mandatory in the European Union. But if you employ somebody who comes to conferences to socialize, if you already met them at conferences, then they might not exercise their rights because they are afraid to rock the boat.

The woman had already been pictured at DebConf19, sitting beside former Debian Project Leader Chris Lamb before getting selected for an internship.

phpList chose to simply open an office in Tirana, Albania. They employed four women to work together there on Albanian salaries. This appears to be a far more logical and rational strategy for a small organization with a limited budget.

In fact, many Italian employers are now outsourcing support and call center jobs to Albania. With a limited budget and desperate need for donations, why is Wikimedia the only employer moving women from Albania to do remote work in Italy?

hand cuffs, high heels, outreachy, internship

The woman is not a developer. In a situation like this, she would realize that her only other options are to return to Albania, get married or go back to working as a waitress during summer and winter holiday seasons. After she has established her life in Italy, with new friends and social commitments, the risk of going back to Albania and losing all those connections becomes quite terrifying. The Wikimedia job, interconnected with her residence permit, is a golden handcuff. A woman in this situation where her whole life revolves around the whims of a single employer is unable to speak up again about exploitation from male Albanian colleagues. Is Wikimedia helping to silence the whistleblower?

Did Wikimedia select this woman simply to avoid paying her for time spent at conferences? Or is this woman's employment at Wikimedia helping to maintain silence about the former Fedora ambassador, who subsequently moved to Ubuntu employment? Why should Wikimedia funds help cover up trafficking allegations against other organizations?

If this was a cover-up then it is a really expensive one. By giving this woman all those trips, making her an Outreachy and then giving her a Wikimedia job and a visa/residence permit they are showing us that they really want to hide what goes on in Albania.

Please see some of my other pages about how Outreachy fell into disrepute.

Wikipedia, Wikimedia, fundraising, donations

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