‘Back-way’ success: From the boat to university

Thursday, March 24, 2016
Even though the mainstream media continue to paint a grim picture of the lives of Gambian migrants at asylum seekers camp in Italy, the story is not all of total doom and gloom.

There are many others whose risk of venturing on the journey to Europe through Libya and to the Mediterranean is yielding dividend.At the moment, for some of these people, challenges on the journey are like folklore stories they were told by their grandparents at the village.

One such Gambian whose risk paid dividend that he will be reaping for life is Modou Barrow, a 29-year-old youth.

Modou made it to Europe through the Mediterranean in 2014.He is now at the prestigious university of Bologna, the first university in Europe and probably the first in the world, doing a bachelor’s degree in statistics.

While in The Gambia, after graduation from the college majoring in mathematics and minor in science, the youth man could not afford to pursue his dream of university education at in The Gambia.He said the tuition was more than what his extended family could stomach.

He and his family have tried all possible avenues for him to pursue his university education but to no avail.

It was at that point that Modou felt he had no other option but to leave for Europe.He now had to follow the spirit of time and luck.He spent two years in Libya different from the many months of hard labour and bad health in Senegal, Mali, Burkina and then to Niger.

In Libya, he said he had worked as a labourer for complete two years before he was able to collect some money together to continue to Italy.

“After I worked in Libya for some time, I wanted to go back to The Gambia after I have some money enough to pay for my tuition at the University of The Gambia for one year,” he said.“But I later thought that was a wrong idea, I continued to help my family back home, sending them some cash, while I explored other options.Finally, it occurred to me that my D57,000 cannot make me to study in Gambia and at the same time help my family.I decided to cross to Italy.”

Modou, as many other Gambian migrants and refugees, put their lives in their hands to realise their objective of a better tomorrow for themselves and their families.

For him, his main preoccupation, when he entered Europe, was not to join the rank and files but to pursue his education dream.It worked out for him; he finally got a university scholarship for an undergraduate programme.

Even though he is studying in a completely different language than he used to in The Gambia, Modou is by all measures doing great academically.

Many students and professors at the university love the youth man after knowing his story and the courage he has.

If everything should go right for him, he will earn his bachelor’s in 2018 and master’s degree in the following year. 

Author: Alagie Jinkang in Italy