Dreams on the other side of the Mediterranean
Farouk* is a 16 year who is no longer at school. He lives in Beheira Governorate; which is one of the locations in Egypt where there is a large number of young people at risk of unsafe migration. He worked in several jobs and he has a passion to work as a plumber. He is now participating in one of Save the Children’s programs targeting vulnerable children at risk of taking the deadly journey to Europe by boat. Farouk comes from a poor family and always had a dream of traveling to Europe.
Interview conducted by Aya Tousson, Farouk’s story in his own words:
“My life was different before I was expelled from school. I was an average student but I was enrolled in school like all my friends. One day, I fought with one of my colleagues from my class. He started bullying me so I punched him in his face. I was so angry at that time that I wasn’t conscious of my action. When my father heard about it, he told me ‘no more school for you’. Ever since then I have been working and supporting my family.My father works as an accountant, my mother is a homemaker and I have six siblings. They are struggling to meet their daily expenses and it was the perfect scenario to start providing them with money."
“I wanted to travel to Europe, I know a lot of people in town who went to Italy and Greece. Yes, definitely the way of travelling to Europe is unsafe but it’s breath of hope for some. The boats are ill-equipped and it’s a deadly trip. I thought about travelling before but didn’t have the courage or the money to do it. During Save the Children’s program, I learnt through art and theatre how topromote messages around the causes and dangers of unsafe migration within the broader community.”
“I have worked in many jobs, from a painter to a carpenter, but unfortunately the one thing I am so passionate about hasn’t been possible so far. I want to work as a plumber. In fact, my uncle is a plumber but I can’t work for him as he doesn’t like to mix family with business.
“Two months ago, I met a friend of a friend who offered an opportunity for me to travel to Alexandria and work there. The next day, I accepted and went without telling anyone. The salary was so tempting. I was going to earn 300 LE (USD 32) per week; this means I was going to earn 1200 LE in a month. I only went for a week and returned home as I found that they were dealing in drugs. It’s illegal and I was too scared to involve myself in this.”
“When I started the program with Save the Children, I was very happy. I participated in theatre workshops. We used interactive theatre which developed my communication, leadership and team building skills. While acting, I felt like I was a blockbuster Hollywood actor. I felt like I owned the stage. It gave me confidence and I loved how we worked as a team. Sometimes, I couldn’t read words in the script so my friends would help me and I did help them when they couldn’t act in a scene. My all time favourite actor is Adel Imam - I love how he makes anyone laugh while watching him. I dream to become like him one day.”
“Since I came back from Alexandria, I work as a “Tuktuk” (auto rickshaw) driver from time to time. I dream of having my own Tuktuk, and I was thinking of taking a loan to do this. I wish I was a respectable man among my community and could have finished my education without being expelled, as I was forced to quit my childhood and the enjoyment of it.”
Save the Children is implementing the Protecting Minors at Risk of Irregular Migration in Egypt project which is funded by the Embassy of Switzerland in Egypt. The project contributes to reducing the vulnerability of children at risk of unsafe migration through the activation of comprehensive local protective mechanisms in three target governorates (Damietta, Beheira and Aswan).
*Names marked with a star have been changed to protect identities.