Today I am happy Volunteer

"My name is Bakary and I was born and raised in Gambia, I came alone to Italy in April 2011 by Lampedusa – I was 16. I was rescued by Save the Children Association and taken to a camp of tents for refugees. I was there for 23 days and I was counting each of them. After that, I was taken to a residential community less than 40 kilometers from Catania. I was there for a year and a half and the beginning was extremely hard. I did not understand the Italian language and few were speaking English. I spent many days studying alone, intensively. I had the opportunity to attend school but I felt uncomfortable because we were the first black students to live in that city. People often ran away from me, changed course in the street to avoid me ... I therefore retracted a lot, always preferred to stay alone at home. However, I felt a huge need to move, to physically deliver all that went through my mind.

I started running a lot - first alone, then with other people. They noticed my physical condition and invited me to play football in the first team of the city.
Then my life finally began to change. But, precisely in this period of major change, there came another. I was transferred to another residential community for minors in Bari, in the south of Italy. Despite my initial apprehension, the day I arrived was the same day they signed me in a good school and I understood that I would start building my future with the help of the people who worked there. I finished the 9th grade with good grades, I did an internship and quickly I found a job in a restaurant. Despite the difficulties of the country, I was lucky. I have now been working with contract for over a year and a half. They helped me learn the language, find a job and a house. I am integrated, independent and happy now!
Of course, I had bad experiences too. There were many looking at me in a wrong way, supporting that we were in their place to “steal” jobs from locals. They discriminate us. I remember once I was alone on the bus returning back home from work and the driver forced me to leave because he said he wouldn’t go anywhere because I was the only one there. He was yelling to me. I'm not a violent person, I lost the money I had spent on the ticket and left. I tried to complain but I saw that it was pointless. Sometimes these situations arise but we must learn to breathe deeply and keep our integrity.

I decided to help those who arrive in the same situation as I did, so I became an intercultural mediator. I help as an interpreter of minor refugees and I am the bridge between them and the various judicial, educational, health services. It's something that gives me a great pleasure to do.

I wanted to do something more. I started to participate in international volunteering camps organized by the Service Civil International. I worked together with other young people from around the world in rebuilding a social center and also organizing several debates and activities relating to immigration in Italym, young people living in ghettos and forced labor without any conditions. I learned a lot on this subject that touches me so deeply.

Today I am happy. Volunteering is something that undoubtedly made me find joy in life. I will continue to do it forever. We all should do the same".