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.
Isaach (17) from Abidjan, Ivory Coast. 'I arrived in Italy about three months ago. I was living with my grandmother, I have never even known my parents. When my grandmother died, there was nobody there to take care of me. I don't have any brothers or sisters, no other family that I know of. I was on my own. I went to a Koranic school in Abidjan, for about four or five years. That was interesting, but when my grandmother died I didn't really know what to do. So early 2016 I left Ivory Coast and travelled through Burkina Faso, Niger and Libya. Burkina was easy, but when I travelled through Niger I was interrogated by the army. That was scary. And the ride through the desert from Niger to Libya was hell. It was a two day drive in a pick-up truck. Sometimes the pickup trucks are shot at in Libya, people die. I didn't happen to us, but I heard stories about it. And people sometimes fall of the trucks and are left behind to die. After we arrived in the town of Sabha in Libya, I stayed there for a month to work and make some money. I was contacted by a man who offered me a ride on a boat, and I took it. I paid 1500 Libyan dinars to cross the sea. We arrived in Italy the next day, in the town of Messina. The ride across was very frightening, water kept coming into the boat and we had to work hard to keep it out. When I arrived in Italy, I felt liberated, free. It wasn't anything like I experienced in Libya, there you always have to be careful. But Italy helps us. After Messina I came straight to Milan. Here in the shelter, I take an Italian course and the people h