In the first five months of 2016, more than 33,000 migrants made the perilous journey from the shores of north Africa to Italy. Of these, at least 5300 were unaccompanied minors (UAM). Photographer Chris de Bode met with nine UAMs living in shelters in Milan and Sicily and worked with them to capture, not their despair, but their dreams in images that represented their journeys and their hopes for their futures.
Bala (17) from Gambia. 'I came to Italy at the end of January, I landed at Pozzallo after I had left The Gambia in September. I left because I have a problem with my family, I don't really want to talk about it. I went with my little brother, who is a year younger than me. We went from Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina, Niger to Libya. Agadez in Niger is a hard place, I was there for two weeks until we got a ride on a pick-up truck. We really had to hold each other tight to make sure we wouldn't fall off. We mainly travelled by bus, sometimes we got a ride on a truck. We were on the road for over a month. When I got to Libya I was afraid, there were guns everywhere, the police was looking for migrants and kidnappings happen all the time. I never experienced any violence myself, but I was still afraid. It is a dangerous place. I was contacted by a man who asked if we wanted to cross the sea, and we said yes. It cost us about 1000 dinar. At night we went to the boats. You just jump on the boat and that's it, you're off. We left from a town far from Tripoli, but I forget the name. We were on the boat for about three days, with around 100 people, maybe a bit less. It was a big boat, made of plastic. We were on the water for a few hours, when at dawn we were picked up by an Italian ship. We came to Europe to find a better life, a life where we are free. I want to be a car mechanic, that's what I did in Gambia as well. I went to school for about five years, until I was nine years old. When I was about ten I started working in an auto workshop, until I was about