FEATURE: Boubakar: The migrant hero who saved two lives

Friday, July 26, 2019

On the first of December in Prà, he had recovered a man from the tracks; last July 3, at Principe, he threw himself to protect a woman.

 Boubakar Manneh a Gambian who traveled through ‘backway’ in 2016 and now a resident in Italy has saved a woman who attempted to commit suicide at a rail way in Pra (Italy).

On 1 December last year, Boubacarr saved another man who wanted to commit suicide at a railway in Italy.

 Boubacar explained how he got to save the man, on 1 December, at Pra station saying, “I was with a friend waiting for the train in the direction of Genoa, where I saw a man standing on the railway without moving an inch when we heard of the train coming, I was nervous and couldn’t help myself then I ran to take him off there.” Together with his friend he grabbed the man and drags him away before the train arrives.

It happened again and it is a thing not to believe, and in fact, fortunately, it is all recorded by the cameras of the Principe station: a silent film that tells the story of a boy who, for the second time in a few months, saved a life. Throwing himself on the tracks, without thinking for a moment, at nineteen: to save a woman who, seeing the train arrive, went to meet him to commit suicide.

Last time it was the first of December, at the station of Pra and Boubakar Manneh, this big boy with his shy eyes, from Gambia, hosted by a Sprar center in Arenzano, had not told anyone: not even the operators of the Agorà social consortium, which manage the structure that is part of the protection system for asylum seekers and refugees.

As soon as he saw the police and ambulance arrive, to rescue the man he and his friend had taken on his shoulder and literally pulled off the rails where he had thrown himself, he got scared.

Even if he has it, a humanitarian residence permits, at least for another year.

“I don’t know why, but with all the fuss I got scared. And there and then I didn’t feel like telling it - he explains - when they asked me, at the center, what I had done over the weekend, I replied: nothing special “. Perhaps they do so, the superheroes: they save your life, and then they disappear, without waiting for even a thank you. But at Principe, on 3 July, at six o’clock in the afternoon, Boubakar could not run away: because, throwing himself on the rails to save that woman, he injured his foot.

“Nothing serious”, he minimizes, always with the same smile, that of someone who seems to be telling someone else’s story. But they accompanied him to the Galliera, to the Emergency Room.

“He is shy; this boy who saved two lives at nineteen and has already lived a thousand. In Genoa (Italy) he arrived for almost two years, after a long journey alone, seven months in Libya, to work as a welder; his my father’s profession to pay for his trip,” said Simona Binello.

She said when one ask Boubakar what he went through his head, at that moment, what prompted him to risk his skin, and twice more, he thinks about it a bit. And then he says: “I couldn’t stand the idea of seeing a person die in front of me.”

He has already seen several, of people who died next to him. “A dear friend died in Libya. We walked down the street, at one point they shot him in the head, for no reason”.

She said of those months he carries the scars, even on the two front teeth, hit with the butt of a pistol, “because I had given my ration of food to a companion who could not stand”. So, when that first time, at the station, he saw all those people watching the scene of a man who was coming down the rails with the train coming, and so many people were filming the scene, with the mobile phone, it seemed to him the only possible action .

For three months, Boubakar has been working as an assistant cook at the social trattoria ‘Le mele’, uphill of Prione. When he arrived in Genoa, a minor, after traveling on the boat and landing in Sicily, for a while he lived in the extraordinary reception center at the former Quarto psychiatric hospital: and if he could enter the Arenzano Sprar he was by a whisker. Because the new rules of the Salvini decree no longer allow it: but they would have come into force two days later. “When his permission expires next July, we hope to be able to convert him to another for work reasons - Simona Binello explains - in the meantime, we await answers from the Ministry with respect to his act of heroism”. Meanwhile, Boubakar has put on his white hat and cook assistant’s apron. And to see him there, in the kitchen, to joke with his colleagues, all those past existences seem to disappear, and he seems so light

Author: Fatou Dem