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Abdi Farah Abdullahi came to Terre des hommes’ (Tdh) Head Office in Lausanne to tell us about his arduous journey. As a youngster he left Kenya, where he had settled with his family, to undertake the lengthy journey that finally brought him to Malta. Only just 18, Farah speaks for the other youngsters who have no voice. He shared his experiences with us, his dreams and his plans.
In 2012, driven by the desire to make the most of himself and achieve his ambitions, Farah decided to leave Nairobi and set out on the long journey through Uganda, Sudan, the Sahara desert, Libya and finally to Malta, where he at last received refugee status.
He had to leave his family in Kenya. His mother, to whom he felt very close, is always in his thoughts. But Farah aspires to be able to live fully and be what he really is without having to hide his sexual orientation. This is why he went elsewhere in search of a place where he could pursue his dreams.
Migrant, but not only . . .
After his wanderings, it took a year before he felt ready to tell his story so that all children in a situation of mobility can be protected better. He wrote about his troubles in a personal journal, and now has a blog; his life story will soon be published.
“I’m a migrant, I’m black, and I’m gay. But more than all that, I’m a human being.” Farah deplores the fact that migrant youngsters are seen only as migrants. Behind each identity are hidden many facets, Farah claims. In this way he seeks to show the wealth of migration.
Improve conditions for migrant youngsters
We remember Farah’s smile that lit up his serious face when he said “I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor.” Convinced of having been born to change things, education is an essential for Farah. His knowledge of English made and makes it possible for him to assert his rights and to set himself up as a spokesperson for others who cannot speak for themselves.
The Tdh staff, moved and visibly touched by this young man’s story, asked questions about how NGOs could contribute to the protection of the hundreds of child migrants on the roads every day. It seems difficult to intervene in the transit countries, but “strengthening the reception facilities by better representatives of the youngsters in the destination countries might improve the situation.”
Listen to the youngsters better
Ignacio Packer, Secretary General to the International Federation of Terre des Hommes, is convinced that “much can be learned by listening to the youngsters talking about their journeys and their needs.” He recently ran the 400 km from Milan to Geneva in only 82 hours, to prove that this course – qualified as impossible – was not so; and to bring a halt to the detention of child migrants.
On the occasion of a side-event at the 26th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Abdi Farah Abdullahi talked about his experiences as a child detained because of his migrant status. Together with Terre des hommes, he demanded an immediate halt to detaining child migrants. Farah expressed his wish for children to be listened to better.