ABDULAI MANSARAY: MAKING A BRIGHT FUTURE WITH MULTIMEDIA SKILLS IN SIERRA LEONE
Written by Bilal Kamara (MaM) volunteer
Abdulai Mansaray is a returned migrant from Libya. At the age of 25, Abdulai dreamed of living abroad. He wanted to go to England to become a professional footballer. After he saw that he cannot meet the visa requirement of traveling to his dreamland, Abdulai decided to travel the irregular way with determination to get to Europe to become a footballer.
It took ABDULAI MANSARAY over one year surviving the hostile Sahara Desert, sneaking through borders in North Africa, and eventually being locked up in prison in Libya. While in prison, Abdulai was forced to give up his dream of reaching Europe. “I will rather be alive and free in my homeland than to be a prisoner or end up in body bag on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea,” said Abdulai.
ABDULAI MANSARAY returned home in 2019 with the help of the International Organization of Migration (IOM). He decided to further his study at university. He considered himself lucky to receive reintegration support from IOM Sierra Leone. Abdulai invested the money he received from IOM into his studies. Computer Science was Abdulai’s choice of study. He is now a third-year student at the University of Management and Technology (UNIMTECH) in Freetown.
Having gone through the painful and traumatic ‘temple run’ journey, Abdulai felt responsible to share his experience to raise awareness about the risks involved in the ‘backway journey’. So, he decided to join the Migrants as Messengers (MaM) team of volunteers in 2019. MaM is a peer-to-peer messaging campaign where returning migrants share with their communities and families the dangers, trauma, and abuse that many experienced while attempting irregular migration.
In early 2021, ABDULAI MANSARAY was selected to attend a 3-day mobile journalism training organized by IOM. It is one of IOM’s capacity-building training for journalists and returned migrants. “That training helped shaped my future,” Abdulai said. Abdulai was exposed to some techniques and apps to make videos and graphics designs. “I learn to make and edit videos using the kinemaster app and I grow my knowledge in graphic designing using apps like, canvas, headliner, and background remover and among others”. Today Abdulai is earning money for himself editing pictures and music videos for people and designing graphics on t-shirts and advertisements.
“When I returned home from Libya, I choose to study computer science because I wanted to become a networker but after that mobile journalism training organized by IOM, I see myself now falling in love with video editing and graphic designing,” Abdulai said. He added: “What I learned from that training is helping me to become self-employed and I believed I can do better if I have a more advanced phone and computer. Abdulai’s dream is to open a multimedia studio in Freetown.