Chris de Bode

Milano, Italy

Above: Bala (17) in Milan.Below: Bala dreams of freedom. He says 'I came to Italy at the end of January. I landed at Pozzallo after I had left The Gambia in September. I left because I have a problem with my family, I don't really want to talk about it. I went with my little brother. We went from Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina and Niger to Libya. Agadez in Niger is a hard place… We really had to hold each other tight to make sure we didn’t fall off (the truck)… We were on the road for over a month. When I got to Libya I was afraid, there were guns everywhere.… I was contacted by a man who asked if we wanted to cross the sea, and we said yes. It cost us about 1000 dinar (GBP 550). At night we went to the boats… We were on the boat for about three days... At dawn [one day] we were picked up by an Italian ship. We came to Europe to find a better life, a life where we are free. I want to be a car mechanic, that's what I did in Gambia. When I was about ten I started working in an auto workshop…They didn't pay me though. I learned how to fix cars, they got free help...In my free time I played soccer... So if there is anything I dream of, it is freedom. Being able to make my own life. My brother also lives in the shelter. Sometimes we call our sister and our mother, I miss them. I do miss The Gambia, mainly because of my mother. But Italy is a better place to live. I would like to stay here, if I can find a job. I'm a strict Muslim, but I don't have a problem with Italian society.'In the first five months of 2016, more than 33,000 migrants made the journey from North Africa to Italy. Of these, at least 5300 were unaccompanied minors (UAM). Photographer Chris de Bode met with nine UAMs living in shelters in Milan and Sicily and captured, not their despair, but their dreams in images that represented their hopes for their futures.

Object Name
Chris de Bode
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