Vitalis’ story

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My name Vitalis and I did not want to come to this country. I did not pay any ticket, I chose the sea when the soldiers of Gaddafi, with gun pressed on my face, asked to choose between a boat and a bullet. Leave or die. I was exhausted when I arrived in Lampedusa, the journey had lasted five days and I was wondering what my future would be, it was enough for me to be with my feet on dry land, with the sea behind. I spent two months in the center of Manduria and they told us that this was a temporary destination, we had to be patient, they took our fingerprints and we were given a number. Then one day, with the buses we have been moved to Piedmont, in Settimo Torinese. Our new home was called Hotel Giglio.

At the time Giglio was always empty, we could survive, but every day we were not alive. We had a bed and hot meals and days were all the same but we are not farm animals, we are men. On January 23, the revolt broke out, we were exasperated by the smallest things, that day we blocked the road outside the hotel and the police arrived, the people working there all ran away but we did not want to hurt anyone, just wanted to shout that we are also men, who want to live. After the revolt I have been expelled from Giglio, it was cold in those days and I found that many people like me were on their way. The camps were closing, and we who came from Libya we stood in the streets, in train stations to freeze.
When they told me that a group of refugees was thinking of occupying some blocks of flats, and there were Italians willing to help, I wanted to join them because I do not want to be cared for, I want the opportunity to take care of myself, to feel that I am to decide about my future.

Today, these homes are a small Africa, we are here in six hundred people, we come from 25 different countries and we are learning to live together. At first Ghanaians wanted to be alone with Ghanaians and did not trust anyone else, and so it was for Nigerians and Malians and Eritreans. Now Ethiopians and Tuareg are drinking tea together, Sudanese and Ghanaian divide the expenses and meals. We are all equal here, we’re the ones who came from Libya, the survivors. Even now it is not simple, we live without hot water and no heating, but this is our home and not just a place to stay because from here we stopped being treated like children and we are ready to fight for our rights and the our dignity.

Vitalis is 28 years old and comes from Nigeria, arrived in Lampedusa on August 13, 2011. After the closure of the Emergency reception centers in North Africa , it was found in the street while being beneficiary of international protection . Along with hundreds of other refugees gave birth in the city of Turin employment population EX MOI where he currently resides.

Testo di Carlo Maddalena / Fabrica — Foto di Marco Pavan / Fabrica