In May of 1993 five of us left Roasio to visit the most famous and interesting landmarks of Australia.
Alice Springs was on our list.
There, right at the centre of the Country, where desert dust hides away animals and people, a waterhole gushes from the earth as if miraculously: It's what saved from thirst the pioneers who built the first cable line, and whose memories are housed in the Telegraph Station.
Hanging on the walls are old black and white pictures of strong men with forceful faces that tell stories of hard work and sacrifice.
We looked at each other.
Immediately our minds went to the people of Roasio, those who had gone through the same trials and tribulations without ever being publicly acknowledged.
In that moment, among the sand and the eucalyptus trees, we decided that on our return, we would make amends for centuries of neglect, by building a Museum that would do justice to all our emigrants.
Years went by, we discussed it with others to test the waters and the positive and interested reactions encouraged us to continue believing in our venture.
On the 10th of October 1998, we had our first Board meeting, and our story finally began.
The work was more demanding and more complicated than what we had expected, on the grounds that over the years a lot of the paperwork had either been burnt or lost.
Luckily those who did treasure
documents and photographs gladly put them at our disposal.
Planisphere placed at the entrance of the Museum: Each string represents an emigrant who left Roasio, and the Country he settled in.
We managed to classify 466 identity records (today the records are 1221) of people of Roasio who had gone abroad, and 400 other items including pictures, letters and other material (today, between items on show and items kept in the archives, our collection counts around 1000 documents).
To find the necessary funds to cover our expenses we set up a non profit
organization called "Museo dell'emigrante" (Emigrant Museum), and between the fees from our members, the generosity of our people, the donations of some praiseworthy, the grants of the provincial administration of Vercelli, and the help of businesses and local banks, we were able to fully renovate the space the administration of Roasio had made available to us.
On the 22nd of April 2001 "Museo dell'emigrante" was officially opened, gathering within its walls the stories of five generations of emigrants who fought for the life and well-being of their families.
Every letter, every photograph, tells a story of hardship, of daily struggles, and of yearning for home, Country, and loved ones.
Here our youth and the future generations of Roasio, no matter where life takes them in the world, will come back and find their roots.
Velia Micheletti Micheletti
Founder and Honorary Chairman of "Museo dell'emigrante" of Roasio
The museum today
In 2010 "Museo dell'emigrante" was allocate a bigger building and is now housed in the town's old Elementary School. It welcomes its visitors with 50 flags (one for every Country in which a Roasiano has emigrated to) and a banner that reads "il paese con la valigia" (the village with the suitcase).
As well as taking care of the permanent exhibition, the volunteers are constantly searching for information regarding the emigration history of their territory and are continuously updating the ever growing archive.
The Museum remains a non profit organization run solely by volunteers and managed by a Board made up of 5 councilors and 110 members.