It’s a scorching summer day in Rome and 27 year old Khadar is seated on a park bench, jovial and full of life. He’s the kind of character that could light up a room with his easy going nature.
Khadar left Somalia in 2008 with the aim of reaching the UK. His parents were against him taking the journey, but he was persistent and, begrudgingly, they let him leave. Seeing his friends on social media, living what seemed to be a successful life, enticed him.
“Everyone seems take the journey now,” says Khadar. “You see people on social media saying, ‘I have a good life, a good house, I have a job,’ and that person drives a nice car…”
Listen to Khadar recount his decision to leave Somalia
Khadar’s journey through Ethiopia, Sudan, and Libya took him two months and fifteen days. Throughout the journey his parents were worried and had to take out loans to pay his smugglers and traffickers, which put a financial strain on them. The whole journey cost 4,000 USD.
“Every time I heard my mother’s voice, or the voice of my parents, I became devastated, because I knew that I was the reason for the difficulties she was going through,” he says. “It was a devastation for me as well, knowing the hardships my parents were going through, that they were suffering because of me.”
Listen to Khadar describe the difficulties he’s endured.
Khadar’s dream of going to the UK was unfortunately never realized. As soon as he reached Lampedusa, after 36 hours at sea, Khadar and the other refugees and migrants had their fingerprints taken and were asked to apply for asylum. He received his resident permit, and was released to fend for himself. He attempted to apply for asylum in the UK, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands to no avail. Returning to Italy became the only option.
With no food, shelter, or a change of clothes, Khadar found himself living in squalor. “I lacked housing, I lacked food, everything,” he says. “But eventually you get through it, it depends on your strength… that you are not a quitter.”
“I have adjusted to this life, but I started from the ground up. It’s not like in my home country,” he says. “I worked hard do get a good salary that is appropriate for this country.”
Listen to Khadar tell about his experience in Europe.