As thousands make grave decisions to embark on the ‘temple run’ in search of finding a better life in Europe, away from socio-economic issues such as unemployment. At least half of them do not survive the journey and some even return back home but without a welcome. Families can reject an illegal migrant upon return.
Most of the 3,000 migrants or so who have returned to Sierra Leone from the ‘temple run’ in the last two years have gone to the headquarters of the voluntary group called Advocacy Network against Illegal Immigration, that was founded by a returned migrant, a teacher who came back from Libya called Sheku Bangaru.
Sheku Bangaru leads public announcements against migrating on the temple run. A group he leads in the streets continuously campaign against the dangerous action made by young Sierra Leoneans.
He wants the government to do more for returnees. In the meantime, he takes it on himself to help those who have been cold-shouldered by their families to find accomodation.
He also intervenes with the police if they get into trouble and he organises basic psychological counselling for them if needed as well.
“I always follow up with their problems. A lot of the migrants are very frustrated and even traumatised. I have to run to the mental home to try and see them,” he added.
“I have had a lot of migrants who have mental problems,” he says. “These young people, they are on the streets, they don’t have a place to sleep. It’s not really easy for them.”
Alimamy, Jalimatu, and Fatmata receive support from Sheku Bangaru and his advocacy group. While they don’t have jobs, they remain hopeful that they can still make something better of themselves and make it back to their loving families.
This story is part of a series on illegal migration from Sierra Leone and the ‘temple run’.