Meet Yeussupha

Yeussupha points to God; about two weeks after his rescue on the Mediterranean Sea. Lampedusa, Italy. 29 April 2017. © Pamela Kerpius

Yeussupha points to God; about two weeks after his rescue on the Mediterranean Sea. Lampedusa, Italy. 29 April 2017. © Pamela Kerpius

 


Meet Yeussupha.

17 years old and from Gambia.

Yeussupha’s journey is unknown. 

He was the fourth to speak at a roundtable interview, and before I arrived at his turn he was too upset to speak. I heard him sniffling in the background when I spoke to Prince and Destiny.

I saw Yeussupha drop his head in distress. Prince finished his story. Destiny finished his; it was flecked with those tsk sounds that signal an awareness, a reliving of a thing you couldn’t believe could happen. 

Tsk: disbelief, wincing at the memory, the human horrors. It continued until I asked my first question to Souleman. The guys told me he spoke French and Mandinka; Yeussupha would have to translate. 

I turn to Yeussupha but he’s crying, covering his face.

 
He came outside of prison
just last month.
 


I held his hand and told him he didn’t have to speak. He cried harder. I told him it wasn’t right what happened to him and that I was there to listen, and he squeezed my hard harder.

“He came from prison. He came outside from prison just last month,” Prince said. “It had been one year in prison.” Prince knows because he met him there.

Yeussupha caught his breath. We all stared at each other, and then away into the sky. I told them to never feel shame about releasing the pain of the things that they’ve seen and that have been done to them.

They posed for pictures so that I would be able to show you who they are. When they calmed down they wanted to do that.

We can assume Yeussupha crossed the same six countries as most other Gambians: The Gambia, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger and the Sahara desert, but I cannot confirm it. We know he was in Libya because of what Prince told us about his captivity there, before he escaped to the coast outside of Tripoli.

He crossed the Mediterranean Sea in mid-April, was rescued, and arrived in Lampedusa Easter weekend 2017.

Yeussupha is an amazing human being.

 
 
In Lampedusa, Italy. 29 April 2017. © Pamela Kerpius

In Lampedusa, Italy. 29 April 2017. © Pamela Kerpius

Yeussupha (17, Gambia),    Prince    (25, Nigeria),    Destiny    (22, Nigeria), and    Souleman    (19, Gambia), in Lampedusa, 29 April 2017. © Pamela Kerpius

Yeussupha (17, Gambia), Prince (25, Nigeria), Destiny (22, Nigeria), and Souleman (19, Gambia), in Lampedusa, 29 April 2017. © Pamela Kerpius