Meet Ricky

Ricky in central Padova. Padova, Italy; May 2018. © Pamela Kerpius

Ricky in central Padova. Padova, Italy; May 2018. © Pamela Kerpius


Meet Ricky.

28 years old and from Anambra State, Nigeria.

To reach Italy he crossed three countries: Nigeria, Niger, and the most dangerous of all, Libya.

His journey took seven months in total.

He traveled through Nigeria to Agadez, Niger where he met a caravan of trucks to take the group he occupied of more than 200 people across the desert.

Ricky crossed the Sahara desert in the back of a pickup truck so overcrowded sticks were planted in the base of the truck to give people something to hold on to. It’s a normal modification made for the desert crossings, but it was not enough to keep everyone inside; many people fell and died, he said. Nor was there enough water. People drank their urine to survive.

He arrived in Sabha, Libya, his first stop in the country, where he was imprisoned for two months. His eyes darted around as he talked, as he remembered, “It was so terrible.” 

He kept grabbing his chest. “It was so fucking terrible there.” Ricky and I didn’t have time in our chance encounter to hear the words to describe the things he was seeing. His friend, Kensington (Nigeria), listening on, said it was giving him flashbacks. He left in a rush soon thereafter.

There were lots of
gunshots everywhere.

When the traffickers at the compound would transport him through Sabha he’d be put in the back of a car with sheets thrown over him so no one would know he was in their possession.

He was let out of prison, then made his way to Garian*. He looked for work on the street, but there, small boys––young Libyan kids with guns––kidnapped him and sold him to new traffickers. 

He was held in prison in Garian for three months. We do not know the conditions or human rights abuses he faced. Again, in our quick encounter the only detail there was time to offer was that “there were lots of gunshots everywhere.”

He made it to the coastal camp, Sabratha, were he stayed before departing for the sea.

Ricky crossed the Mediterranean Sea in a rubber dinghy with 300 people, including old men, women, children, and numerous babies. In total he was out to sea for 8 hours. The boat capsized and broke in two, throwing everyone in the water. He watched a woman holding her baby sink into the sea and die. More drowned around him.

He was rescued by a German NGO, and was then transferred to we believe the Guardia Costiera. He landed in Lampedusa 10 June 2016.

Ricky is an amazing human being.


Ricky has been living in Padova, Italy since being transferred from Lampedusa. He has sought documentation to remain in Europe, but his story being yet incomplete, we do not know if he has received an outcome from the Italian court. We met at Giardini dell’Arena, the park in central Padova where many other migrants, homeless or awaiting their documentation verdict, congregate. More of his story, pre- and post-Lampedusa, is forthcoming.

* City name not verified.

In Padova, Italy; May 2018. © Pamela Kerpius

In Padova, Italy; May 2018. © Pamela Kerpius