Meet Boubs

On the piazza of the Milan duomo. Milan, Italy; June 2018. © Pamela Kerpius 2018

On the piazza of the Milan duomo. Milan, Italy; June 2018. © Pamela Kerpius 2018


Meet Boubs.

28 years old and from Senegal.

Boubs speaks French natively; our interview was in Italian, which he has since learned after arriving in the country, and in French via Google Translate.

To reach Italy he crossed five countries: Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and the most dangerous of all, Libya.

In total his journey took about five months.

He arrived in Agadez, Niger where more than 100 people remained in hiding before leaving for the desert. 

Boubs crossed the Sahara desert in the back of a pickup truck with 20 people, which took two weeks; all passengers survived.

He arrived in southern Libya before being moved further north, to a city close to Tripoli. There, he says, it was very dangerous. “Many people have weapons,” and he himself had been shot at. 

He found work during his five months in Libya, but he had to be careful when he’d return to the compound where he stayed, because thieves would hold him up for the money he had just earned that day.

From a coastal camp near Tripoli, Boubs crossed the Mediterranean Sea on a rubber dinghy with 104 people, all men, at 5:00 on the morning of 6 July 2014. He was “thinking of death” while at sea. “Everyone thought they’d die,” he said.

He was rescued by an Italian ship before being transferred to another. He landed in Pozzallo, Sicily on 9 July 2014.

Boubs is an amazing human being.


Boubs and I met on the piazza of the Milan duomo in April 2017 while he was selling bracelets, his work, to tourists. His journey story above was recorded in June 2018; more of his story about life in Milan as a migrant is forthcoming.