I am Rashid Abubakar Iddrisu Wari, born 3rd March 1974 in Sawla, a small town in rural northern Ghana where I attended primary and junior high schools. I went to high school 18/20 kms away in Bole because Sawla didn’t have a senior high school.
I wanted to continue my education at Bolgatanga Technical School, 200 kms from Sawla. But my father was sick, and the family had no money to take him to the hospital. So, I decided to travel to Europe to earn money so that my father could get to the hospital.
I started out on March 3, 1998, passing through Burkina Faso, Niger, and Algeria to reach Libya. I made several unsuccessful attempts to take a boat to Italy. The 1st try turned out to be a fraud: I (and many others) paid to get on a boat, but the person disappeared with the money.
We worked, saved, and bought a boat ourselves, and set out for Italy. But we had a problem at sea, and the boat sank. Finally, I changed routes, going through Algeria to Morocco, and took a boat to the Canary Islands. I spent 38 days in the migrant detention center at Fuerteventura, and then police took me to Las Palmas.
After two days, I flew to Barcelona and began living in the streets. I started helping myself and other African migrants to meet basic needs and gain papers, eventually founding the NGO, CEHDA (www.cehdaghana.org). We worked in Barcelona to support migrants, and also in Sawla to develop opportunities for youth so they did not need to try to reach Europe.
I eventually founded the World Institute of Africa Culture and Traditions in Sawla, starting indigenous education (www.wiactghana.org) so that young people can reconnect with their own cultural identities.