Story of Abu Bakar (14y)

I am Abu Bakar (14), I left Mali one month ago. My father wanted me to work on the land and my mother wanted me to continue my schooling, but later she decided I must take this journey. I don’t know how my mom arranged the trip or how she paid. I’m happy I am here. I am traveling with my older brother, I don’t know where he is on the boat, but he’s here. We spent one week in Libya, staying in a crowded flat with hundreds of people. We left Libya in the night, the men told us we would reach Italy in a couple hours. When I was in the boat, I only thought of reaching Italy. But when the water started rushing into the boat, I was very scared. I don’t know how to swim. I have never seen the water before. I kept thinking of my mother. It was hard for me to stay on my feet, a few women helped me sometimes…but I kept getting pushed around and stepped on, my hands, my feet were hurting very much. Others were fighting and shouting. The floors of the boat were coming apart, everyone was in a panic. It was so dark. Then we saw a light. I was so happy to be rescued. I wanna stay in Italy and continue my education. One day I want to be an engineer.
Text & photo: Kenny Karpov (Documentary Photographer for Stichting Bootvluchteling)