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.
Mamadou (17) from Guinea Conakry. His mother is still in Conakry, together with his two sisters. His father is in the CAR, but he hasn’t seen him in a long time.
'I landed in Italy on the 30 March of 2016. I was registered in the port of Catania and came to this centre that very same day. In my country, I went to school for six years until I dropped out. I tried to find work at a young age, which is quite normal in my country, but I couldn’t find any jobs. I fled Guinea because in 2015, there were big demonstrations going on. I’m an ethnic Peul (Fulani) and we were discriminated against on a daily basis. The police beat people a lot, they kill people. Politics are a dangerous thing. I left Guinea on my own, but on the way you meet people and make fiends. From Guinea I went to Mali, then to Burkina Faso and Niger, and then I crossed the desert to Libya. That was extremely hard. I stayed in the country for ten months, that was very hard also. First I worked in construction, to make a living and to get food. I try to forget what happened in Libya, I’ve seen things that I don’t want to talk about. After ten months, I decided to cross the sea. I don’t even know what I paid for the voyage but I know I was glad when a boat picked us up. And I felt relief when I touched Italian soil for the first time. I’d like to be a football player, I’m very good and whenever I get the chance, I play. But if I can’t be a soccer player, I’d like to be a car mechanic. I love repairing things. The Italian Ferrari is a beautiful car, but I think they might be a