One last thing, the Libyans said, before he steppe…

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One last thing, the Libyans said, before he steppe…


Neil Shea







POINT (1679577.38798668, 4509666.1031091)

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One last thing, the Libyans said, before he stepped into the boat. “Take off your ring.â€ù Later, at sea, a man told Ibrahim it was so the ring wouldn't slit the inflatable skin, thus sinking the boat and drowning them all. So it goes with boats and fear these days. Everything thin and badly built and very near to tearing. But it wasn't that kind of ring. No prongs or crooked settings, no ill-fitted stones with bad edges. A simple band that his father had given him, years back, before he died in Gambia. Ibrahim slipped it off, threw it onto the sand. It was late. Tripoli's lights glowed at the horizon and cool air flowed off the Mediterranean, chilling a hundred or so people who stood there waiting to leave, shedding last bits of old lives. Shoes, rings, bracelets, keys. One imagines future beachcombers swinging metal detectors over such flotsam, puzzled at how it all got there. Ibrahim grew sad. He let the sadness pass. During three days at sea he tried not to look at the two things that might yet kill him, the sea and the past. That was more than a year ago, when he was 17. Today, though he is 18, he still lives in a home for children who arrive in Italy without parents, without family. He doesn't know when he'll be allowed to leave. Soon, he hopes. And when he stands before God in the home's little prayer room, Soon and Football are what he prays for. To leave, to play. The future. Now he will pray for me, too. “Maybe one day you will become a Muslim, Mr. Questions,â€ù he says. “Then we will be brothers.â€ù
#nationalgeographic #refugees #sicily #catania #hope #migration #ontheroad #europa #muslim #humanmigration #un #unhcr #ngm #onassignment with @lynseyaddario @petergwin @natgeo




Neil Shea, “One last thing, the Libyans said, before he steppe…,” The InstaEssay Archive, accessed December 11, 2018,