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SPECIAL EPISODE: Reunion with Alagie

This is what it’s about. This is what makes what we do so valuable: connecting with human beings in a real, meaningful and intimate way. In this episode we might find the very definition of Humanitarian Storytelling, in a reunion after a years-long gap. Alagie (Gambia) and Pamela met in November 2016 on Lampedusa at the very moment he stepped off the rescue ship and onto land. It was the next day when they really met in person on the streets of the tiny island town, where she recorded his Journey Story. He lost her contact information, she never heard anything about him. Until one day in mid-July 2020, a mutual contact saw his story on the site and put us back in touch. Today’s episode is that phone-reunion conversation with Alagie and Pamela after three-and-a-half years.

On Racism: Bapa, Part II

"I call it another pandemic," Bapa (Sierra Leone) said about racism in Europe and around the world. We spoke via phone from his home in Passau, Germany as the global debate surges around systemic racism and police brutality after the murder of George Floyd. He talks about being an outsider, being denied entry to clubs and bars for being black and a migrant, and remembers friends from his time in Libya whose whereabouts are unknown.

On Lockdown, Labor & Life: Bapa, Part I

"You have to fight for what you like...Try, even if they tell you it's not possible for you, leave them. Don't argue. Keep fighting. Fight in a positive way," said Bapa (Sierra Leone) from his home in Passau, Germany. As lockdowns keep lifting and we continue to make calls to our friends in the migrant community in Italy, Germany, and in Belgium. When Bapa arrived in Italy before crossing to Germany in 2016, he had a dream for his life. And even though the reality is different than what he first imagined, he continues with resiliency and a lot of heart. Tune in to Part II of our conversation, on racism, tomorrow.

SPECIAL EPISODE: Babou's Update

Our friend Babou (Gambia), speaks again to Open Encounters via phone from Padova, Italy with some good news. Plus, he thoughts on George Floyd after weeks of unrest in the US and around the globe, and a standing invitation to the restaurant where he works in Mestrino, Italy.

On Racism: Ousmane

Our friend Ousmane (Gambia), speaks again to Open Encounters via phone from Bayern (Bavaria state), Germany about racism after weeks of unrest in the US after the murder of George Floyd. He expresses his sorrow for George Floyd's family, discusses classism versus racism in The Gambia, and his perception of police violence in America in contrast to the more advisory role the police play in Italy and in Germany, and more.

On Racism: Pazi

Long-time friend of MotM, Pazi (Gambia), spoke to Open Encounters via phone from Rome, Italy about racism after weeks of unrest in the US after the murder of George Floyd. We are energized by his voice, his vision, and his audacity to speak of the city around him totally unapologetically, even while he frequently remains the center of grotesque moments of racial discrimination. He will not shrink in the face of it.

On Racism: Fabulous

"We want to be treated just the way you guys have been treated. We want to be loved just the way you guys have been loved," said Fabulous (Nigeria) via phone from Limatola, Italy. He spoke to Open Encounters about racism after weeks of unrest in the US after the murder of George Floyd. But this conversation is about much more. His experience in Italy, he says, is so much defined by not being believed. It's about his reason for being there not being believed––by the authorities who interview him for his asylum case, and by the citizens around him. Even after three and a half years in the country, he feels he is not just unaccepted, but that in the eyes of society, his sheer reason for being there is a false premise.

On Racism: Richard

"We are human like you....Whether you are white, whether you are black: forget the color, we are all human," said Richard (Nigeria) via phone from Livorno, Italy. He spoke to Open Encounters about racism after weeks of unrest in the US after the murder of George Floyd. And while we initially asked about his experience in Italy, quickly he steered the conversation about his time crossing North Africa, and through Libya in particular where racism against outsiders hit a brutal peak. Hear his very brave words, and his call to love one another no matter who or where you are in the world.

From COVID-19 Lockdown: Mahamed on Migrant Labor

Lockdowns start to lift and we continue to make calls to our friends in the migrant community in Italy, Germany, and now in Belgium. In this episode, we speak to Mahamed (Gambia), from his home in Sint-Truiden, Belgium. Migrant labor exploitation is in the news in Italy, but Mahamed has a much different experience in Belgium where he is fairly paid. "One day here is two days in Italy" he said about his work at the Carrefour supermarket. The economy in Belgium is better than Italy's of course, but so is the organization of how migrants are received, tracked and integrated into society. Hear our telephone reunion as life starts to get back to normal for him after Covid-19 hit.

From COVID-19 Lockdown: Richard on Migrant Labor

Lockdowns start to lift and we continue to make calls to our friends in the migrant community in Italy, and in Germany. In this episode, we speak to Richard (Nigeria), once again from his home in Livorno, Italy. With migrant labor in the news, we talk about his experience working as an independent street vendor. Richard faces the hard reality of impending homelessness if he can't come up with his rent money, and with social distancing still in place, people are apt to approach him less than they already do outside the market where he works.

From COVID-19 Lockdown: Fabulous on Migrant Labor

Lockdowns start to lift and we continue to make calls to our friends in the migrant community in Italy, and in Germany. In this episode, we speak to Fabulous (Nigeria), once again from his home outside Naples, Italy. With migrant labor in the news, we talk about his experience working in agriculture where he has earned as little as 10 Euros a day. From tobacco planting to a lumber yard, hear what he's done for work and the reality of an average day. He's not happy with the exploitative labor market in Italy, but he insisted on positivity, "We're going to keep going. We're going to stay strong and keep focused." Listen now.

From COVID-19 Lockdown: Yanks on Migrant Labor

Lockdowns start to lift! We continue to make calls to our friends in the migrant community in Italy, and in Germany. In this episode, we speak to Yanks (Gambia) for a status check from his home outside Naples, Italy. With migrant labor in the news, we talk about his experience working in agriculture where he has earned as little as 25 Euros for a grueling days' work, and without a contract. Hear all of the details.

From COVID-19 Lockdown: Buba, Part 2

"We have to be generous to one another. We have to give one another love," said Buba (Gambia) in Bergamo, Italy, one of the areas hardest hit by the coronavirus. This is Part 2 of our talk. He speaks about the effects of COVID on migration, about creating opportunities, and using the health crisis to bring us all together.

From COVID-19 Lockdown: Buba, Part 1

Lockdowns start to lift: we're ushering in "Fase Due," Phase Two of COVID-19 lockdown, and continue to connect with the migrant community in Italy, and in Germany. In this episode, we speak to Buba (Gambia) for a status check. Hear how he's managing after two months in quarantine in Bergamo, Italy, one of the areas hardest hit by the virus. And hear some good news too––about his admiration for the Bergamo people, about his respect for migrants everywhere, plus, some big news on his asylum case. We continue our discussion with Buba tomorrow, in Part 2.

From COVID-19 Lockdown: Ebrima

Lockdowns start to lift! We're ushering in "Fase Due," Phase Two of COVID-19 lockdown, and continue to connect with the migrant community in Italy, and in Germany. In this episode, we speak to Ebrima (Gambia) for a status check. Hear how he's managing after two months in quarantine in Agrigento (Sicily), Italy. He shares his grief and sadness about the crisis, and urges us to keep wearing those masks and gloves.

SPECIAL EPISODE: Andrew's Update

Andrew gets his documents! After three and a half years of hearings and appeals after crossing the Mediterranean to Italy, Andrew (Nigeria) gets a call from his lawyer that he is free to work and live in the country. "My heart's full of joy, my heart's filled with singing," he said, proving that even in the times of Covid-19, we can find happiness and hope for the future. Enjoy this very special episode, and to Andrew, we send our biggest congrats and all our love. We are proud of you, Andrew.

From COVID-19 Lockdown: Mustapha

Lockdowns start to lift! We're ushering "Fase Due," Phase Two of COVID-19 lockdown, and continue to connect with the migrant community in Italy, and in Germany. In this episode, we speak to Mustapha (Gambia) for a status check. Hear how he's managing after two months in quarantine in Latina, Italy, about his drive to begin work, "any work," he urgently says, and how he stays away from too much news to keep stress levels down.

From COVID-19 Lockdown: Foday

During the worldwide lockdown of COVID-19 MotM connects with the migrant community in Italy and in Germany. In this episode, we speak to Foday (Gambia) for a status check. Hear how he's managing after two months in quarantine in Latina, Italy, and about his first day out on May 4th, Italy's start of "fase due" (phase two) and the end of fase uno (phase one) lockdown across the country.

From COVID-19 Lockdown: Ousmane

During the worldwide lockdown of COVID-19 MotM connects with the migrant community in Italy and in Germany. In this episode, we speak to Ousmane (Gambia) for a status check. Hear how he's managing after two months in quarantine in Bayern (Bavaria state), Germany, about wearing masks at the club, and his words of precaution to keep distance and keep wearing our masks as lockdowns starts to lift.

From COVID-19 Lockdown: Andrew

During the worldwide lockdown of COVID-19 MotM connects with the migrant community in Italy and in Germany. In this episode, we speak to Andrew (Nigeria) for a status check. Hear how he's managing after two months in quarantine in Limatola, Italy, and his hope that the Italian government and people can begin to view the frequently-isolated migrant population with greater sympathy as lockdown begins to lift.

From COVID-19 Lockdown: Richard

During the worldwide lockdown during COVID-19 MotM connects with the migrant community in Italy and in Germany. In this episode, we speak to Richard (Nigeria) for a status check. Hear how he's managing after two months in quarantine in Livorno, Italy, about his concern for our friend Philip (Nigeria) who is now homeless, and for his daughter and family in Nigeria.

From COVID-19 Lockdown: Babou

During the worldwide lockdown during COVID-19 MotM connects with the migrant community in Italy and Germany. In this episode, we speak to Babou (Gambia) for a status check. Hear how he's managing after two months in quarantine in Padova, Italy, about his recent return to work as a cook at a local restaurant and pizzeria, and the new perspective he has gained on the prison population after being confined for so long in one place.

From COVID-19 Lockdown: Moussa

During the worldwide lockdown during COVID-19 MotM connects with the migrant community in Germany and Italy. In this episode, we speak to Moussa (Senegal) for a status check. Hear how he's managing after about two months in quarantine in Günzburg, Germany, and about his Ramadan during lockdown, and finally his positive words that no matter black or white we are all the same.

From COVID-19 Lockdown: Landing

During the worldwide lockdown during COVID-19 MotM connects with the migrant community in Germany and Italy. In this episode, we speak to Landing (Gambia) for a status check. Hear how he's managing after about two months in quarantine in a city outside Stuttgart, Germany, and stay posted on the MotM Facebook page where we'll share his next live music performance.

From COVID-19 Lockdown: Bakary

During the worldwide lockdown during COVID-19 MotM connects with the migrant community in Italy. In this episode, we speak to Bakary (Gambia) for a status check. Hear how he's managing after six weeks in quarantine in Naples, Italy, and his wish to turn the mic on me when we can finally meet in person again.

From COVID-19 Lockdown: Fabulous

During the worldwide lockdown during COVID-19 MotM connects with the migrant community in Italy. In this episode, we speak to Fabulous (Nigeria; episode #2) for a status check. Hear how he's managing after six weeks in quarantine in Limatola, Italy, and his message of positivity and gratitude to the world.

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© 2019 Pamela Kerpius