I spent the last three years working on a personal long-term project about West African refugees and migrants in my home town, Asti (Italy).
“Refugees and migration” is an hot topic in the news, but I choose to document refugees dailylife with a more intimate eye, focusing on their identity of young men (most of them are in their early twenties) not only suspended between two cultures but also on the borderline between childhood and adulthood.
In a country where young people are used to depend on their family until their thirties or even later, living cheerfully unworried, local people seems not to recognize the same right to migrants.
Life is asking them to take lots of responsabilities, leaving their family and their countries and trying to find their way in Europe, but despite all the daily difficulties and the uncentainty about their future, they are always trying to keep their positivity and their values. The other migrants they met in Europe, especially the ones from the same country or those belonging to the same ethnicity, became their new brothers. Hospitality is a strong value for all West African people and and people are used to help each other not only inside the extended families but inside their community. With this new family they share meals, they play together, they train.. first of all they find the friendship and the support needed to face the challenges of the new life in Europe.
Unfortunately, not all the boys in the pictures are still living in Asti, some had to leave the country after having their asylym request denied by the commission or the court, while others joined other relatives elsewhere, but all the shared experiences make those connections intended to last. And new friends are always welcome… also italian. “Come to eat” or “come to drink ataya (tea)”, I cannot count how many times they invited me, always proud of their culture and happy to introduce me to it (food, music, language, traditions…).
Unlike Europe who is trying to close its doors to the migrants, those migrants are keeping their doors open to whom are simply looking at them with open mind. [Official Website]