Three young migrants gave their testimonies and Cardinal Luis Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis, stressed that “we are all migrants” at a press conference in Rome on September 27, 2017.
The Pope on the 27th officially launched a Caritas Internationalis campaign for migrants: Share the Journey. The aim of the initiative is to encourage welcoming gestures, meeting and listening to migrants and refugees forced to flee their country.
During the presentation, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle explained that it was a matter of making a “first step” in understanding the “reasons” of migrants forced to flee. “We are all migrants,” he insisted, “no one here is a permanent resident, we are all on our way. The cardinal also said that the rejected migrant could bring added value to the host country.
The testimonies of three young migrants at the conference:
Yankuba Darboe lived in Gambia until 2014. Life in Gambia was difficult; he was sorry to leave his family and friends, but he decided to leave.
He traveled to Senegal, and then to Mauritania, where he worked as a fisherman. He traveled on to Mali, where he didn’t manage to earn enough to live on. Then on to Libya, via Niger, always seeking work.
Kidnappers seized him and the other people traveling in a car with him as they crossed the border between Niger and Libya. The kidnappers tortured him and forced him to ask his family to pay a ransom for his release. His family had no money, so the torture continued. Together with the other kidnap victims, he decided to try to escape – which meant risking his life – and succeeded.
He then decided to travel on across the sea and entrusted himself to traffickers, after working a little in Libya. He arrived in Catania and was taken to Benevento; first to a home for minors and then to Caritas, where he studied, underwent vocational training and also studied the laws and culture of the host country. He obtained a high school diploma from a science college. He is now studying biology at university.
He has been working to help minors in Caritas centers for the past two years. He loves playing soccer, and dreams of embracing his family once again one day.
Amadou Darboe, the first-born in a large family and the son of an Imam, took on responsibility for his family’s upkeep when his father died. This is why he set out on the dangerous journey across the sea, seeking a better future.
Amadou is part of the ‘’Protected: a Refugee Sheltered in my Home” project. Always eager to work, he has followed a course for bakers and pizzaioli, has a middle school diploma and has worked as an apprentice in a pizzeria.
He is a Moslem and strongly believes in dialogue between people of different faiths; for this reason, he has attended meetings at the local parish church. In December, he actively took part in the staging of the birth of Jesus.
He is enthusiastic about the prospect of meeting the Pope, which he considers an honor. Asked why he wants to meet the Pope, he replies: ‘’because he saved my life. This project opens many paths and has given me a family – aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers – and friends. I don’t know how to say thank-you.’’
Berete Ibrahima left Guinea at the age of 16 because he wanted to study in Libya. His crossing of the desert by car was extremely difficult; he and the other passengers were at one stage blocked for about three days, without any water. Someone finally helped them, and the journey continued. He reached Mali, then Algeria, then Libya.
In Libya, he started studying and followed a course to become an electrician. He also began to work, managing to pay for his studies.
After about a year, war broke out in Libya and he decided to travel to Italy, paying for the journey with all the money he had managed to save.
The sea crossing lasted two days; the GPS broke, the boat lost its way and the passengers were saved by Tunisian fishermen.
Ibrahima reached Lampedusa in 2011 at the age of 17. He was then taken a home for young migrants in Casapesenna (CE). At the age of 18, he was taken to the Caritas Diocesana in Aversa.
In 2012, Ibrahima arrived at Caritas and stayed there two years. He received help for his asylum request and went to school where he obtained the middle school diploma. He took part in various projects as a Caritas volunteer.
In 2013, he started an apprenticeship in a local restaurant. Today he has a long-term contract as a chef’s helper.