IOM The Gambia
“Many boys my age often talk about thebackway without telling their parents.”
I was 16 when I left. I understood my family’s conditions, and I was ready to go search for greener pastures for us. I had friends who had made it to Italy through the backway, so I decided to try my luck. My parents were not aware of my plans; neither were my six siblings. When I left home, the last thing I told my parents was that I was off to play basketball.
The only things I took along with me were a copy of my birth certificate and money that I took from my mother’s wardrobe. I only called my family when I reached Burkina Faso, because the journey was so expensive and I had finished all my money. My father was shocked and angry and asked me to come home, but I told him I couldn’t because I knew the conditions I had left behind. In the end, he had no choice but to send me money he got mostly from loans throughout the journey.
The journey was so hard, but I really thought I would make it to Italy. When I got to Libya, I was arrested for three months and got beaten every day. Once I was freed, I tried several times to cross to Italy but never succeeded. At some point, my father just could not afford to send any more money. He had already borrowed over GMD 50,000 (approximately USD 1,000).
Thankfully, he heard about IOM and contacted them to assist me to return home. My parents were so happy when I came back home because, while I was gone, they said they couldn’t eat or sleep. Through IOM’s support, I was able to go back to school and my family built a shop. After a while, I decided school was not for me and that I wanted to become a tailor. I enjoy sewing and I am currently working for a family friend. Someday, I hope to have my own workshop.