A Dream of Escape
"The body of a man is very small compared with the spirit that inhabits him."
African Oral Tradition
At only 9 years old Yasin travelled to Spain, hidden between the wheels of a truck…
Thousands upon thousands of children actually risk their lives embarking on dangerous journeys in an attempt to escape.
Managing to drift their way to Morocco’s borders they scramble hidden onto cargo ships or crowded on to unsafe pateras. 80% of runaways who attempt to board these hazardous and overcrowded boats daily are unaccompanied young children.
In Tangiers children try and hide on the back of trucks or hang dangerously on the bottom of chassis.
Unofficial reports estimate up to a thousand bodies a year are washed up on Spanish shores, whilst refrigerated lorries have been opened to find the bodies of children frozen.
Numerous children manage to make it across the borders, reaching the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla where they then try and find a way to journey to mainland Spain. Some like Ismael
‘Some, like Ismael, who came to Ceuta from his home in Tetouan more than a year ago, live rough. Many more are housed in Spanish children's homes, although the local authorities complain that they cannot cope with the flood.
"They took me to the San Antonio children's home, but the bigger children hit me, so I came back here," Ismael said, sinking his nose into a dirty sock. He swore that he was just mopping up the blood, but it is more likely that the sock contained "cola", a strong glue which many street children sniff.
This time he has been lucky. Last month he was doused in lighter fuel and set on fire. Large white scars mark his dark skin. "I woke up with fire on my arms and face and ran straight into the sea. The man who did it wanted me to rob for him, but I said no."
He was the third street child to be attacked in this way in the past few months; all the others suffered third degree burns. All were attacked by young Moroccan men, some also living rough in Ceuta, who wanted the children to beg or steal for them.‘ Read More
Tremlett, Giles. “Perilous Lives of runaways Europe does not want.” Guardian 15 June 2001
Unbelievably many children have made it as far as Madrid and Barcelona whilst others have even made it all the way to Italy and France. But sadly countless children who make these terrifying journeys end up dead.
Those that do manage to survive only end up worst off than before. They become lost, living the same street life but in a country they don't speak the language. Essentially they become orphaned in a foreign land.