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.
Patrick (17) from Senegal. He has a mother and a sister in Senegal. When he lost his father, his uncle put him in a Koranic school. In this school he was mistreated and suffered several attacks by other boys and by the people who ran the school. So he escaped and went back to his uncle's house, but his uncle didn't believe Patrick and he brought him back to the school. The night after he returned to the Koranic school he was heavily beaten, falling on the ground he reported a profound wound in a leg. He escaped from the school that same night and took a bus that brought him to Mali. That's how his trip started. He spent some months in Mali in order to earn money and continue his trip. When he had enough money he went to Libya where he used to work in a car wash. Since he was looking for a safe place, not only for him but also for his mother and sister, he decided to take the boat to Italy. Patrick says: 'It's better to try to cross the sea, than go back home and risk to die.' He is scared that if he returns to his country he will face retaliation from the Islamic group that was running his Koranic school. He would like to make a family reunification and bring his mother and sister to Italy. In Italy he attended a pizza making training school and his dream is to become a professional pizza maker.