Socially-based information sharing, communication, and journey planning

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Family and friends were a major source of information; many children had family, friends, and neighbors both at home and abroad who provided information and help. Ivorian teenager Amara, a 17-year-old girl interviewed in Gran Canaria, said: “I heard my friends talk about Morocco, about Spain. That’s why I told my grandmother I wanted to come here. […] My grandma talked to me about Spain. She told me it was good, that I could earn a living.” However, peers’ descriptions of life in destination countries were not always accurate. This was true for boys as well, as one Moroccan boy attested: “My friends that came here before me, they tell you only about the good things. But the reality is very different.” (Amine, Spain)

Platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube, are used to communicate with others planning trips as well as to gain information about both destination countries and journeys.

One key informant working with migrant youth in Spain similarly noted: “Young people go through these channels to understand how to get through [borders] and they use social networks. There are a few vloggers who are known by these youth, who film [their migration experience] and post it online.” Other young people can connect through Facebook groups. While girls may be more timid than boys to engage on social media, some comment or like some of the posts and videos that boys post to express their interest in migrating.” (Migrant youth psychologist, Spain).

A migration program officer for an NGO in Morocco described the role local communities and social networks play in encouraging migration: “There is even some fundraising in some neighborhoods to finance the journey because they expect a return on investment. Also, there is a logic of imitation: let’s say one person takes a photo of himself showing how good life is in Morocco or in Spain or France with beautiful Nike jerseys and shoes, this triggers the envy of those in the country of origin who do not foresee any bright future for themselves compared to those who show an alleged success on social networks.”

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In some cases, an urgent need to flee or a desire to leave covertly made advanced planning difficult, if not impossible. When children were forced to make a rapid decision to leave, they gathered information piecemeal during various stages in the journey and stays in transit countries.

Twenty-year-old Rainatou, from a village in Guinea, did not speak French before making her way to Dakar, Senegal, where she lived for five years after fleeing abuse and child marriage. Seeking information from acquaintances before fleeing her village would have raised suspicions; word may have gotten back to her father. While working for several years in Dakar as a live-in domestic servant, she became aware of the possibility of migrating further north and progressively sought information about the journey, being careful not to let her employer know of her intentions. She took advantage of trips to the market to ask people for information, and would ask her boss’s children, who had internet access, to look up information for her.

from: “Girls on the move in North Africa” (SAVE THE CHILDREN)

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