New opportunities 

Let me introduce you to SD. He is a young Senegalese man, 26 years old, who left his country four years ago in search of a better life in Europe. I would summarise his story by telling you that today he has a good job and has achieved what he dreamed of from his home in Dakar. But the reality is that, until he achieved it, he lived on the streets, slept with six people in the same room, worked for hours carrying more than 10 kilos on his back selling towels to earn his bread and, in addition, with the little he saved, he continued to help his family by sending money every month.

And all this on Spanish soil. Until he reached Chiclana de la Frontera, the town where he arrived by boat, he lived through hell. He crossed several countries on foot, crossed the desert and ran for days on end, fleeing from the police. In addition, he suffered the blackmail of the Moroccan mafias who profit by risking the lives of those who board the boats without knowing whether they will reach their destination or drown in the waters of the Mediterranean like SD’s friend, who did not survive the European adventure.

SD, as he well knows, is an exception among thousands. Although the goodness of people works wonders, not everyone is as lucky. And why SD and not others? Well, I don’t know. I, of course, was struck by his innocent look, his kind smile, his cheerful character. We met on a beach in Cataluña and as he didn’t speak Spanish, I spoke to him in English. But it could have been in French, Arabic or his own language, Wolof.

Today he speaks Spanish very well and works in an electricity company, because on that beach where we met, many other people noticed him and wanted to help him. Some brought him lunch; others brought him fruit. Others bought him water at the beach bar. Some bought him towels without needing them so he could eat. He made friends from many cities in Spain, and during the winter, he received help from Switzerland. It is clear that the boy is loved. It was always clear to him that no matter how extreme his situation was, he would never commit crime. Many people steal out of hunger. Parents, in order to feed their children, deal drugs. But at home, he had been taught to be good and to trust in God, and he could not disappoint his mother.

The integration of these people who arrive illegally is complex. For ordinary people, the unknown is frightening. In addition, language is a barrier. They live badly until the time stipulated by law has elapsed, giving rise to problematic situations. Then they get official documentation and if a company offers them a contract, the countdown to legalise their situation begins.

This story is repeated over and over again among the millions of migrants around the world, but some are lucky enough to access education and end up with fantastic ideas to support their compatriots in their countries of origin.

That was the idea of Ousman Umar, a young man from Ghana who lived exactly the same story as SD, but who was also able to study a degree and a master’s degree thanks to a person who adopted him.  Ousman has now started a foundation called  Nasco Feeding Minds, which collects, upgrades and reuses old computers and laptops, giving new tools to Ghanaian children to help decide their future. In addition, Nasco Feeding Minds generates social and economic impact in rural communities by providing development opportunities. A story of hope.

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