The interview was conducted in French language during Mr D.’s stay in Vienna in early June 2017.
Interviewer: Angelika Brechelmacher
Mister D. is a very young man of about 22 years. He does not know his exact date of birth as this is not that important where he comes from. He grow up in a small village in the middle of Mali, south of the dessert. His father died and his elder brother took responsibility for the whole family, their mother, two sisters and him.
About four years ago Mister D. decided to leave his country and to find his way to Europe. He travelled to Libya where he found work for several months. With the earned money he bought a place on a refugee boat. In the middle of the Mediterranean Sea the boat came in troubles because of heavy swell. A huge cargo boat found them and informed the Italian coastguard. All passengers have been saved. They had more luck than thousands others.
The boat landed in Sicily and they were placed in a refugee shelter. D. learned the Italian language within six months. After several months, he got the right of humanitarian residence. From then on, he was also allowed to work in Italy. Unfortunately, in Sicily young unemployment is very high, about 40 percent. That means that foreigners have no chance to find work if even young Italians only have a small one. In addition, as soon as he had a legal status in Italy, the Italian state stopped supporting payments and he had no financial backing anymore.
That was the moment when he decided to leave Italy and to accompany a friend whom he had met on the boat. This friend told him about a cousin living in Paris. Both young men had found friends, a Sicilian couple engaged in a refugee shelter. They gave Mr D. and his friend the possibility to work in the shelter until the young men had earned the money to buy train tickets to Paris. Mr D. and his friend left Sicily and started again in an unknown country.
In the suburban of Paris a huge community of people from Mali has settled, most of them live under very heavy conditions. However, the community is strong and the young men met with a warm reception from other people from Mali. They found a place to stay – means each one got a bed – in a centre organised by people from Mali. Some of the inhabitants have work, most of them not. Those who are allowed to work and found a job support the others who have no work and no single euro. Mister D. lives there for two years without any chance to find a job, to earn money and to establish himself.
The interviewer met Mr D. about three years ago in Sicily. Since then they are friends and stay in contact by skype. In June 2017, Mr D. was invited by the interviewer to tell about his live. Together they discussed possible steps for the future. Mr D. next target is to attend a formation course in Paris. Meanwhile friends in Vienna are collecting the money for his formation. The next and very important target is to find a job in Italy where he is allowed to work. This would give Mr D. a chance to start in a sovereign future. He and his friends in Vienna will pool their strengths to achieve this next goal.