A 28-year-old Gambian migrant in Italy said for eight years his main engagement has been to collect “things that are useless in Italy but useful in The Gambia” and pack them for export.
“I collect what is useless here from the dustbins, load them in container and export to The Gambia where they are very useful,” said Momodou Barrow.
“It is a hard job and it needs patience; sometimes in the whole year I send one 40-foot container,” the young man added.
Barrow said lack of employment made him invent himself a job as necessity is the mother of invention.
“The job is risky and unhealthy, but I have to do something to survive and help my people back home,” he said. “I will leave it when I have another opportunity, but for now this is my occupation.”
Tomorrow may be better
Unlike Barrow, some unemployed Gambians in Italy resort to begging for survival.
Our correspondent in Italy said migrants’ begging in Italy is nothing strange anymore, as the number of beggars who take to the streets every day is increasing.
“Gambians are also among the ever increasing number of beggars, as the opportunities fade out in Italy for many migrants,” the correspondent said.
Saikou Kabba has been begging in the streets of Italy for two years, since he lost his job in 2013 as a cleaner in a nightclub.He now begs at supermarket entrances and at train stations.
The man, 43, said he could not fly his way home due to his economic situation.
“Life for me is a matter of collecting what my sympathisers give me and nothing else,” he said.“It is from the money I make on the street; it’s what I use for living.I am not proud of that in anyway, but life is a transition and tomorrow may be better.”
According to statistics, Gambians in Italy are among the highest number of migrants refused asylum, because the country is a ‘safe region’.
However, Gambians continue to take the dangerous journey each moment.
Mr Ceesay, a former primary school teacher who abandoned the chalk for Europe, said when he was first refused asylum in Italy, he rushed to Germany.
Unfortunately, he was told that his fingerprints were in Italy hence he could not be given asylum in Germany.
According to the EU Dublin Regulations, migrants are supposed to ask for asylum in their first country of entrance.Many Gambian migrants are oblivious of the asylum procedures in Europe and, therefore, continue to face a lot of avoidable obstacles.
Mr Ceesay said he finally came back to Italy to claim for his right as an asylum seeker.He now has to follow a bureaucratic process to find himself a lawyer, and follow his case which could take him up to a year or more.
In Italy, Gambian migrants who succeeded the life or death journey through the Mediterranean Sea faces a constant lack of employment and the attendant problems, because they find it difficult to be documented and be recognised legally in Europe.