Sep 15, 2008, 6:35 AM
Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram are the most important means of communications between Gambian migrants and their families.
These means of communications have proven to be effective and economical for both the migrants and their loved ones back home.
More than a hundred Gambian migrants interviewed on the mode of communication with their loved ones back home said they found social media most effective and important.
For them, social media is indispensable in their lives because without it they would have found it extremely difficult to communicate back home.
One of the interviewees, Haruna said he used to make and receive calls on Facebook messenger and he would also usually send photos to his family via the same medium.
Haruna was not on social media prior to his journey to Italy – through the Sahara Desert to Libya and then Italy.He opened a Facebook account shortly before beginning his journey, to ease communication.
“I would really have found it extremely difficult without Facebook to update my family on my whereabouts,” he said. “It is cheaper and very easy for us on this journey to communicate through social media.We cannot afford to buy credits all the time but with mobile Internet access we can communicate very easily.”
Another interviewee, Ali, said he received money from his family through communicating on Facebook.
“I talk with them almost everyday and about everything that was going on,” he said.
For Bukary, he opened WhatsApp in Libya because he cannot buy credit all the time or go out from his house to call his family in The Gambia.
He said life was dangerous for him in Libya and it was very important that he had that account to link with his family for any help he needed.
Another young Gambian migrant in Italy, Musa, said he found using social media more useful in Italy than when he was in The Gambia.
“I update my [Facebook] profile almost everyday for my family and loved ones to see me. Also, we speak for free: they hear my voice and see my pictures all the time,” Musa happily said.
Musa, like many other Gambians at the camps, uses the free Wifi all the day and everyday.
According to Bamba, the first thing any Gambian thinks of upon arrival in Italy is to have one or two social media accounts.
“We receive pocket money here [at the camp] but that is very little so if we want to be buying credit from it to make calls to The Gambia it will only last few minutes,” Bamba said. “But with social media and free wifi here, we can make as many calls as possible for free.”
Bamba, just like other Gambian migrants at the camps, continuously update their profiles to show their new environment.But this really does not reflect their lives at the camp.Lives at the camps is the least easy for a lot of migrants.