Meet Alkai

Alkai in Lampedusa, Italy. April 2017. ©Pamela Kerpius

Alkai in Lampedusa, Italy. April 2017. ©Pamela Kerpius


Meet Alkai.

17 years old and from Serekunda, Gambia.

To reach Lampedusa he crossed six countries: The Gambia, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and the most dangerous of all, Libya.

In total, his journey took about one year. He traveled for one week to Agadez, Niger, then stayed in the city working for two weeks.

He crossed the Sahara desert in three days with two liters of water. There were 23 people in his pickup truck, one of whom died. When the truck stopped to bury the dead, it was robbed.

He arrived in Sabha, Libya where he remained in a compound with over 300 people for two months. There was some sort of fight with a Libyan man at the compound and he was taken to prison. Like many others, he was beaten regularly and held ransom for money. He had no money to call for so he finally escaped after five months. 

I [was] thinking I would die.

He bypassed Tripoli and traveled directly to the coastal camp of Sabratha, where he remained for five months. There was salty tap water to drink. To eat, he took a mixture of flour and tap water to create a kind of pasta. He slept outside because there was no shelter there, nor did he ever leave camp, because to do so would increase the risk of getting caught and taken to prison.

During Alkai’s time in Sabratha there were around 300-400 people at the site. There, he worked for a Libyan man who provided no food, and who also beat him every day, “I [was] thinking I would die.”

He crossed the Mediterranean Sea in a rubber dinghy with 141 people, including 21 women, five of whom where pregnant; and one baby. Altogether, he was out to sea for 12 hours. 

He was rescued by the Guardia Costiera and brought to Lampedusa, arriving at 6:00am in mid-April 2017.

Alkai is an amazing human being.