Opinion: We Must Continue Educating Our Young About the Dangers of the 'Back Way'

04/16/2015 13:56

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

By Invitation

We Must Continue Educating Our Young About the Dangers of the "Back Way"

By Musa Manneh

I think one of the key reasons why these potential migrants, from Africa and other places, decide to take the back way to get to Europe and America is that some of them have the perception that when they reach Europe and America, their lives will automatically get better. Sadly and unfortunately, the reality is, however, very different. 

I truly believe that we, as individuals and groups, should give the right message to these potential migrants. It is of paramount importance that we inform them about the dangers and tough realities of being illegal immigrants. The right information and education through social media and other means of communication will enlighten them; and hopefully deter these migrants from taking the risk to go abroad. In general, most of the risks are based on false hopes. Europe and America are considered to be the Eldorados of the world, and the gateways to success. The perception is not the reality, and it doesn’t worth one risking his or her life.

If many of these potential migrants knew about the risks, I don’t think they would easily trust what the smugglers and “friends” would be telling them about risking their lives through the back way to Europe and abroad. I think that they go because most of them don’t know the risks. The risks, (just to name a few), may involve the harsh conditions in the Sahara Desert, discrimination from unfriendly people, robbery, slavery and eventual death by drowning in the sea.

In many cases, these migrants do find out the risks on the way. At this point, it may be already too late to return to their native countries because they have probably paid huge amounts of money to the smugglers or traffickers. At this juncture, they may have the guilt that they will disappoint their families and relatives if they give up reaching Europe and other perceived destinations.

In sum, I believe that the determination of these potential migrants is feverishly high ("nerves" as we say in The Gambia), and thus, it will at times be very difficult to convince them about the risks. The feeling (with some potential migrants) is that “if my friend made it through these harsh conditions, I can do it, too.” Peer and family pressures push them to not to give up their aspirations to reach their destinations. In this case, “NO BACK WAY TO EUROPE” becomes a “MUST WAY TO EUROPE.” 

As people and organizations, we should not give up on these potential migrants; we must educate them. This is the reason why organizations, like Friends of Basse, should put their resources on an information campaign to prevent these people from making the wrong decisions about taking the back way to Europe and elsewhere. At times, these wrong decisions are suicidal; and the parents of these migrants are left devastated for the rest of their lives.

About the Author: Born and raised in Bansang, Musa Manneh coordinates the activities of the Bansang Yiriwa Kafo in the United States. A graduate of Armitage High School, Manneh attends Seton Hall University in New Jersey, USA, as a PhD candidate in Higher Education, Leadership, Management and Policy with particular interest in women education in Sub-Saharan Africa, and with a focus on girls' education in The Gambia. Manneh is also the Assistant to the Director at the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and an adjunct professor of Mathematics and Statistics at his university. Manneh was a regular on the Bansang football powerhouse Cosmos that regularly visited the Basse High Level Football Field in the late 1980s and he also played for Fulladu F. C. and NPE F. C. in Basse football.



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