MotM Update | “You Give Me Hope”
13 December 2018
”Without you, we don’t have anybody to explain us.”
Yesterday you met Ousman after eighteen months.
But when we met in Lampedusa in April 2017, it was not just the two of us. I met him among a small group, all of whom had even travelled in the same rubber boat from Libya.
One of those people, who is in regular contact with Ousman, is Yanks.
“Ousman sent me your Facebook name,” his message said last week, popping up so plainly and yet in total surprise.
Just like that, we’re in touch again.
A lot is happening for Yanks, who now lives in a town outside of Naples, Italy. He has completed his asylum hearing just this week, and waits now with bated breath for the results. He has things to keep him distracted until then.
He plays rugby (see his green uniform in the above right image) with a community team, and has been receiving Italian language education. He is lucky to be integrated as part of the rugby team, which is the place where all language training really starts to click: in conversation, in the moment, and on the ground––something many migrants left on the margins of society do not experience.
But while his quality of life has improved since our initial meeting on Lampedusa island, like Ousman, he is wary of Minister Salvini. He is worried how Salvini’s political influence will affect his effort to secure Italian documentation.
In the meantime, he and I have already started upon an in-depth conversation about his life now. There are some incredible things to come, including video from a segment of his journey, and audio narratives.
When I am in Napoli next, a full follow-up interview will come in-person. Until then, he has left me with an encouraging message:
“Without you, we don’t have anybody to explain us.”
When you hear the upcoming pieces of his story though, you will see it is he who is the real expert at telling it.
“You [did] not forget us,” he said, and I think––how could I?––in this state of total elation. His contact turns on a new light.
“You are just like a family to us,” he said, “You give me hope.”
It is just the same for me.