My name is Alieu. I am 20 and I am currently studying at Bansang School, in Grade 12. I left The Gambia in late 2019 because I wanted to improve my father’s life and to support the family. I was beaten across the desert and I experienced hunger. I returned from Algeria in February 2020, after a two month-journey through Senegal, Mali and Algeria. I decided to come back home to study when I realized that crossing the Mediterranean Sea was not as easy as I imagined.
I faced stigma when I returned but I immediately started school again. This helped me a lot to find my place in the community and be concentrated on what I want to do in life. As the first child of 11 sons, all my brothers and sisters are going to school. The family is very supportive, and my father encourages us to be good students. I want to study law and become a lawyer in Bansang to support the community. It has been my dream to study law since Grade 7, inspired by a former Minister of Justice from my village, just on the other side of the river.
I have a particular bond with my literature teacher Abdolai, who is supporting me in my studies and is offering me food when I don’t have the money to buy it. I study hard every day and night, meeting my classmates regularly to prepare for homework and exams. I would like to buy a bicycle to move from home to school instead of walking all the way.
When I first read my favorite book, The Lion and the Jewel, I was inspired about the leadership of the main characters, and I grew motivation to become a good and respected leader in my community. I took part in an entrepreneurship course, which helped me to understand the dynamics of work and business. I shared the knowledge I learned with my family and community, to provide recommendations on their businesses. I feel privileged because I have books and I can study. One day, I will have a job that allows me to make a change in the life of the community members.
I think I have inspired many people in the community with my story. If you don’t experience the backway, you don’t have any idea about the difficulties and the risks. One of my friends spent the last three years in Morocco and still can’t cross to Europe. If you are in Europe without a job, it will be very difficult for you. If you find it, you can spend 10-15 years without seeing your family, and it will be difficult for you anyway.
Alieu’s studies is supported by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, funded by the European Union’s Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.