“I feel love for the person that rescued me from the sea”

Marrie S. talks about what love in the form of solidarity, support, and rescue means to him.

Marrie S., Palermo 2019 © Minor

“When people hear the word love, they usually only think of the feeling between boys and girls, but if a person helps you do things, like find a job, go to school, then that’s love, too. On the journey, when we crossed the sea on a ship, they helped us reach Italy, and when we came here, the people who took care of us and gave us documents, food, a bed, that’s love as well.

I feel love for the person that advised me to go to school and not do certain things. I feel love for the person that rescued me from the sea.

Yes, Palermo for me is a beautiful city. When I arrived in 2016, there was more racism. Maybe they didn’t know the people from Africa, that’s why there is racism. Now the situation is improving, they are used to us more.”

Interview with Marrie S., 12 June 2019, Palermo

Marrie S. is from Gambia and has been in Palermo since 2016. With the support of organizations like Centro Astalli, he has started school.

Marrie S. emphasizes his gratitude for the people that rescued him from the sea. Like thousands of others, he came to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea. In 2019, 79,889 people were counted by the beginning of November who came to Europe by the Mediterranean Sea. This is a smaller number than in previous years. The UNHCR is aware of 1,089 cases in which people lost their lives. By June 2019, around 22,800 people had been rescued from the Mediterranean. State-run sea rescue operations have been severely reduced in recent years. Private sea rescue services such as Sea-Watch, Mission Lifeline and SOS Méditerranée are trying to fill this gap and save as many people as possible whose lives are still threatened when crossing the Mediterranean. 11All numbers and information taken from UNHCR Germany: FAQ Seenotrettung, in: UNHCR Deutschland Webseite, 2019: https://www.unhcr.org/dach/de/services/faq/faq-seenotrettung#01 (26.11.2019).

Deaths of refugees who lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea and elsewhere have been documented by UNITED for Intercultural Action since 1993. In addition, many people die during their flight, while their fate remains unknown.

    Footnotes

  • 1All numbers and information taken from UNHCR Germany: FAQ Seenotrettung, in: UNHCR Deutschland Webseite, 2019: https://www.unhcr.org/dach/de/services/faq/faq-seenotrettung#01 (26.11.2019).

How were the films and fragments in Palermo made?

Diawara B. and Diallo S. from Giocherenda held a three-day workshop with six participants in Palermo: Glory M., Fatima D., Ismail A., Kadijatu J., Marrie S. and Mustapha F. Mixing different approaches and games, the group exchanged personal experiences and shared them in the black box in front of the camera. Furthermore, Fatima D., Ismail A. and Mustapha F. consented to being portrayed in short films by the We Refugees Archive film crew beyond the workshop. The portraits deal with their lives in the city.

Giocherenda is a professional organization led by, for and with young refugees in Palermo that offers storytelling games. Its aim is not to help refugees and support them, but the opposite: refugees bring locals together for the sake of exchanging their experiences with refugees.

The word Giocherenda stems from the Fula language Pular, primarily spoken in Guinea, and connotes solidarity, interdependence and strength generated from people getting together. Phonetically, it resembles the Italian word “giocare” (to play), which inspired the collective to develop games for the sake of producing narratives and personal memories.

Refugees’ perspectives

In the interviews, the film crew consciously abstained from screenplays and standardized questions. Instead, the refugees directed the course of the interview and discussed only those topics they were willing to speak about. With We Refugee Archive’s mission in mind, the participants’ personal experiences in Palermo and their visions for the near future was the rough focal point. Thus, experiences during and personal trajectories of forced migration to Europe were shared and discussed at the individual’s own will and not required nor elicited on demand.

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