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.
Ahmad (17), from the Fayoum oasis in Egypt's Western Desert, says he wants to become a butcher, like his father and many other men in his family. In Egypt, he says, 'I had a good life. My father is a butcher and he makes a decent living. When I was sad, I used to drive around on my motorcycle and whenever people needed a ride I took them. They paid me a small sum so, in a way, I was a taxi-driver. It was an ok life. But one by one, I saw my friends leave for Europe, until I was the last one there. So I decided to leave as well. My father is still in the Fayoum, but I don't have a mother anymore. She died some time ago. And I have family in Italy, two brothers of mine work in a butchery here. So I will be a butcher as well. During Ramadan last year, I decided to take the boat from Alexandria. My father gave me money, it was around 23,000 Egyptian Pounds, which is about 2,300 Euros. I was on the boat for eleven days but I was never scared. I just saw it as a big adventure. I arrived in Catania last year and stayed in one of the reception centres for about two months. Then my brother called me, and said I should come to Milan, even though he did not agree with me coming here. But I can't stay at his place, my family says I'm too expensive. So now, I'm sleeping in a shelter. I'm learning Italian, I like it.'