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A Senegalese Migrant's Path from Boat to Nurse in Spain

时间:2020-12-06 23:59来源:互联网 提供网友:nan   字体: [ ]

Six migrants listen closely as Mbaye Babacar Diouf speaks to them.

The 33-year-old man has faced his own difficulties as a migrant from Senegal to Spain. Today, Babacar is a nurse in the Spanish city of Bilbao. He also runs a nonprofit organization that helps migrants in Bilbao as well as young people back in Senegal.

But Babacar tells the men, who have arrived from Senegal, Ghana and Morocco, that he is no role model. Behind the appearance of success, he faces struggles. His difficulties come from years of mistreatment and abuse while trying to repay1 his debts to human traffickers.

"I wish every one of you achieves your life goals, but I don't desire for anybody the complicated and tough journey that I went through," Babacar tells the group.

He recognizes that such a message might seem unusual. After all, he has built a career in Spain that lets him fly home to Dakar to visit family. He earns enough money to send his family money throughout the year.

He spoke2 to the group of migrants just before going to work at Bilbao's Basurto University Hospital. In recent months, he has been treating patients suffering from the effects of COVID-19. Dealing3 with the coronavirus crisis4 has been emotional and difficult for Babacar.

"I've seen people die at sea, but this is different," he says. "I love my job, but there have been situations that have churned my stomach."

Before Babacar called Bilbao his home, there were long nights sleeping in the open and selling street goods for migrant traffickers. Back then, his dream of becoming a nurse seemed impossible.

He was 15 years old when he decided5 he wanted to go into the medical field. The year was 2003. Babacar had just gotten to the Canary Islands after a difficult and dangerous 10-day boat trip. He arrived hungry and extremely thirsty. But Red Cross volunteers provided immediate6 aid to the teenager and the 137 other migrant passengers.

"That instant, I promised myself that one day I would be a nurse," Babacar said.

At the time, the Atlantic Ocean path of migration7 to Europe was seeing a huge rise in such crossings. Babacar still remembers the many bodies he saw floating in the water on his group's seventh day at sea.

"That's when you realize that there is no way back," he said. "Either you make it or you die."

Now, the boats are again leaving in high numbers. And human-trafficking operations continue to find migrants to victimize. The criminal groups force newly arrived migrants to pay high prices for a place to sleep. They also overcharge them for securing health care documents and low-earning illegal jobs.

Some migrants never escape their debts.

In Babacar's case, life changed for the better the day he met Spaniard Juan Gil. Today, he calls Gil "Aita," which means "father" in the Basque language of Spain.

The man had employed Babacar to do some repair work in his home. They grew fond of one another quickly. Soon, the young worker was eating every meal at Gil's home. The man's mother had recently died, and his daughter had just moved away. So, Gil invited Babacar to move in with him. Babacar accepted, leaving the small, costly8 home he shared with 15 other men.

"I told my daughter Mbaye was lucky. But she told me we had been the lucky ones with him," said Gil, a 74-year-old artist and retired9 art teacher. "And she was absolutely right."

When Babacar was 28, Gil became his father through the legal action called adoption10.

Babacar was able to pay back his remaining debt, send more money to family and begin nursing school. After finishing school, he found a job with the Basque area public health service.

Babacar quickly turned his attention to his next goal: completing medical school and returning to Senegal. There, he hopes to work as a doctor for "Sunu Gaal," the non-governmental organization he established. The name means "Our Fishing Boat" in Senegal's Wolof language. The organization works to help migrants living in Bilbao as well as young people back in Senegal, where it is trying to build a school.

"The idea is not to tell them to migrate11 or to stay put," Babacar said of his organization's work. "The goal is to infuse them with critical thinking to make informed decisions and not to fall prey12 to the mafias."

Words in This Story

nurse - n. a person who is trained to care for sick or injured people and who usually works in a hospital or doctor's office

role model - n. someone who another person admires and tries to be like

achieve - v. to get or reach (something) by working hard

complicated - adj. hard to understand, explain, or deal with

tough - adj. very difficult to do or deal with

churn (one's stomach) - v. to feel sick from nervousness, disgust, etc.

absolutely - adv. completely or totally

infuse - v. to cause (something, such as a quality) to be added or introduced into a person or thing

fall prey to - v. to be harmed or affected13 in a bad way by (someone or something)

mafia - n. a group of closely connected people who have great power or influence in a particular field or business


1 repay 1VixH     
  • I feel honor bound to repay the money I borrowed.我觉得有责任归还我借的钱。
  • I must repay her for her kindness.我必须报答她的恩惠。
2 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
3 dealing NvjzWP     
  • This store has an excellent reputation for fair dealing.该商店因买卖公道而享有极高的声誉。
  • His fair dealing earned our confidence.他的诚实的行为获得我们的信任。
4 crisis pzJxT     
  • He had proved that he could be relied on in a crisis.他已表明,在紧要关头他是可以信赖的。
  • The topic today centers about the crisis in the Middle East.今天课题的中心是中东危机。
5 decided lvqzZd     
  • This gave them a decided advantage over their opponents.这使他们比对手具有明显的优势。
  • There is a decided difference between British and Chinese way of greeting.英国人和中国人打招呼的方式有很明显的区别。
6 immediate aapxh     
  • His immediate neighbours felt it their duty to call.他的近邻认为他们有责任去拜访。
  • We declared ourselves for the immediate convocation of the meeting.我们主张立即召开这个会议。
7 migration mDpxj     
  • Swallows begin their migration south in autumn.燕子在秋季开始向南方迁移。
  • He described the vernal migration of birds in detail.他详细地描述了鸟的春季移居。
8 costly 7zXxh     
  • It must be very costly to keep up a house like this.维修这么一幢房子一定很昂贵。
  • This dictionary is very useful,only it is a bit costly.这本词典很有用,左不过贵了些。
9 retired Njhzyv     
  • The old man retired to the country for rest.这位老人下乡休息去了。
  • Many retired people take up gardening as a hobby.许多退休的人都以从事园艺为嗜好。
10 adoption UK7yu     
  • An adoption agency had sent the boys to two different families.一个收养机构把他们送给两个不同的家庭。
  • The adoption of this policy would relieve them of a tremendous burden.采取这一政策会给他们解除一个巨大的负担。
11 migrate MDvxk     
  • Many birds migrate south for the winter.冬天时,许多鸟类迁徙南方。
  • The rich people often migrate in winter to Florida.有钱的人常在冬季搬迁到佛罗里达州去。
12 prey g1czH     
  • Stronger animals prey on weaker ones.弱肉强食。
  • The lion was hunting for its prey.狮子在寻找猎物。
13 affected TzUzg0     
  • She showed an affected interest in our subject.她假装对我们的课题感到兴趣。
  • His manners are affected.他的态度不自然。
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