Guided by dreams

Early morning in Fez. The outside crowing of neighbours’ roosters and Adhan from the nearby mosque woke Yusuf up. He is sharing a mattress on the floor with his younger sister and his mum, but they are already awake and busy with preparing food at the kitchen. Yusuf gets up, washes up, and makes his way to the mosque for the Fajr prayer. After praying he sits down under a tree next to the school, takes out his smartphone and scrolls down his Facebook timeline. One of his friends shared an image with a young football player from FC Barcelona, saying “Never give up on your dreams!”. This image touches Yusuf’s heart: this guy started his professional career being only 17, so, if Yusuf won’t lose his time, he still has a chance to make his greatest dream come true, to become a professional football player in Barcelona. He is already the best in his borrow in Fez, everyone knows that. He’s even got the same hairstyle as all those cool footballers. His thoughts are interrupted by Mohammed, who joins him under the tree.

— Yusuf, brother, I’m so done with it. My stepfather is treating me like a dog. Yesterday he didn’t let me have dinner, complaining that I’m not bringing home any money. I’m 13, brother! Who wants to give job to a 13-year-old boy! Older guys are struggling with finding a job, I mean, I’m so screwed…

— Brother, this is so unfair. We have to change something.

— There is nothing that can be done about it. This man is the Allah’s punishment for me. I wish my dad was alive…

— Mohammed, we gotta run to Europe.

— You crazy…

— Check this out, this dude became a football star just being 17! That’s only two years older than me! Have you ever heard of anyone in Europe sharing an old mattress on the floor with two other people? I have never! Have you ever seen any boy from Europe wearing dirty old sneakers like ours? They all have those cool sneakers, just have a look, — Yusuf shows Mohammed an image on his smartphone.

— So, you suggest…

— Let’s give it a chance, brother. What do we have to lose? We’ll get to Nador, then to Melilla, then we’ll catch a boat and cross to Spain. I have everything planned already.

— I am scared…

— You should not be. Follow your dreams.

Media representations of Europe and occidental life style provide a powerful migration impulse for the teenage boys from Northern and Subsaharan Africa. Influential virtual imaginaries together with poverty and human rights violations in the regions of Morocco determine the life choices for many boys. The weak educational system makes the situation even more dramatic. Social networks and online communication systems allow boys to share their experience, and enable the networks of friends and relatives, who assist one another throughout the journey. However, once boys reach Melilla, they find themselves being betrayed by their dreams. They realise that media imageries are largely fake, and the dreams do not come true instantly with crossing the border.

This media construction of European lifestyle creates a new border dimension. It is materialised in boys’ stories and dreams. Informational vacuum and lack of attention towards children migration in Melilla extend the scale of the problem and more boys cross the border to have their hearts broken.

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