‘My Number was 453’ – One migrant’s story


More than 30,000 African migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean. Ibrahim Kondeh narrowly escapes becoming one of them. But through luck and courage, he makes it across to Italy, although he pays a terrible price on the way. Claudia Romo Edelman and Edie Lush complete the story of this one migrant. “The story of migrants should be told more,” Ibrahim says in this episode.

“People tend to follow what the media tells about migrants and refugees — seen as people who come in to steal jobs, criminals. So, as a result, no one knows what our actual stories are. Positive stories can change the mindset of people.” 

Ibrahim encounters frustration and racism in Italy. But he also is helped along the way, particularly by an innovative use of text messaging called U-report. Tanya Accone of Unicef explains that U-report connects Ibrahim and other migrants and refugees with experts who can advise them when they are at their most vulnerable, alone in a new land without language our resources.

With the help of U-report Ibrahim navigates the Italian immigration rules and enrolls in high school. “A simple SMS,” says Tanya Accone, “can it change your life? I think Ibrahim would say, yes, it has.”

Facts and actions are offered by one of the creators of U-report, Mathias Devi Nielsen of Unicef.

“U-report is a tool for all youth to raise their voices battle stereotypes connecting youth to serve on a global scale. “

 U-report currently operates in 65 countries with 8.5 million uses. It is growing rapidly. Mathias invited companies, agencies, NGOs and youth groups to partner with u report to help provide migrants and refugees with answers to their questions

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The episode is brought to you by Mastercard, dedicated to building an inclusive world in which the digital economy works for everyone, everywhere

Global GoalsCast also welcomes a new partner, Universal Production Music, one of the world’s leading production music companies, creating and licensing music for film, TV, advertising, broadcast, and podcasts, including Global GoalsCast.

Featured guests

Ibrahim Adnan Kondeh

Ibrahim Adnan Kondeh, is a young man, 20 years of age, from Sierra Leone. He lived in a village with his family, helping with the farm and local shops. As a result of his family’s huge sacrifice, he used to go to school there, so he wasn’t among the poorest. Sadly, he was forced to escape when approached by a secret society that “grooms boys to become men”, facing tortures and threats. He then went on a journey eventually making his way into Italy. He arrived in Italy as an unaccompanied minor 3 years ago at the age of 17. The way there was not easy. He was kept as a slave in various locations on this journey. His boat was rescued crossing the Mediterranean Sea. His arrival at a reception center for refugees in Calabria was not very welcoming, the center was very crowded and would not offer services, such as education, for minors. After overcoming these roadblocks, and even learning Italian, Ibrahim was recognized as a bright writer, winning renowned competitions, such as the Moleskine Foundation and the U-Report Contests. Once his voice was heard, he became a U-Ambassador and active member on the platform and U-Blogger on the move. Thanks to his active participation, he applied to Refugees Welcome for a chance to be hosted by an Italian family, He was accepted and is now living there. He was also granted the Never Alone bid for a 2-year scholarship at the renowned United World College of the Adriatic.

Tanya Accone

Tanya Accone’s career has focused on helping international public and private sector organizations understand how to amplify their impact through the convergence of people, ecosystems and innovation. She is committed to applying innovation for social impact and as a public good, especially with and for young people.

Accone has been at the forefront of advocating for and leading ground-breaking initiatives at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). As Senior Advisor on Innovation at Scale, she has led UNICEF’s Global Innovation Centre to support 90 countries to identify, adopt and adapt innovative solutions that have changed the lives of 180 million children and their communities. 

Among these initiatives are U-Report, a youth engagement and empowerment platform that facilitates 8 million young people in 60 countries to speak out on development issues, support child rights and improve their communities. And UPSHIFT, an initiative that empowers youth to build skills and opportunities through social innovation and entrepreneurship.

Accone joined UNICEF to design the organization’s first internet strategy and led its implementation in more than 100 countries. UNICEF received the internet-equivalent of an Oscar – a Webby Award – from The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences in recognition of the excellence of part of this work. She went on to establish and lead the organization’s human capital futures and analytics portfolio.  She tweets at @accone.

Mathias Devi

Mathias Devi Nielsen is a Youth & Innovation Specialist for UNICEF’s Office of Innovation. He manages the Global U-Report platform, a social messaging and youth empowering platform aiming to increase youth voices in legislation and setting the global agenda. With a background in Displacement and Emergency Response, Mathias has been deployed for the past 3 years in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and North-East Nigeria for the International NGO Danish Refugee Council.

This episode was made possible thanks to the support of


Ibrahim Kondeh (00:00): My number was 453. Everyone has a number. My number was 453. The world doesn’t understand that we move because of reasons we can’t handle. And people tend to follow what the media tells about migrants and refugees, seen as people that come into steal jobs, criminals. And so as a result, no one knows what our actual stories are. Positive stories can change the mindset of people that don’t know anything about the stories of migrants and refugees. I think should be told more.

Tanya Accone (00:42): You know, what does this mean? A simple SMS tool? Can it change your life? And I think Ibrahim would say: “yes, it has.”

Claudia Edelman (00:58): Welcome to the Global GoalsCast!

Edie Lush (01:00): The podcast that explores how we can change the world. This episode, we will cross the Mediterranean with Ibrahim Kondeh.

Claudia Edelman (01:07): This is the incredible second half of our special report: ‘One Migrant’s Story.’

Edie Lush (01:12): And what a story of courage and determination. We will travel with Ibrahim as he survived a shipwreck and encounters racism as he’s never had it before and how technology transforms his life.

Claudia Edelman (01:29): Ibrahim really got it right when he described his fellow migrants as “true heroes”… And this is our chance to share with you – the audience – what is it to be a migrant and why we think that humanizing migrants as individuals can remind us that we all belong to the same human family, which is the essential part of achieving the Global Goals.

Edie Lush (01:51): More on all that right after this…

Michelle Cooperider (01:56): This episode of Global GoalsCast is brought to you by Mastercard. Mastercard is dedicated to building an inclusive world in which the digital economy works for everyone, everywhere. This episode we welcome Universal Production Music. Universal Production Music is one of the world’s leading production music companies, creating and licensing music for use in film, television, advertising, broadcast, and other media including podcasts. Thanks, also, to CBS News Digital and to Harman, the official sound of Global GoalsCast.

Claudia Edelman (02:42): Welcome back. I’m Claudia Romo Edelman.

Edie Lush (02:45): And I am Edie Lush. Migration is such a powerful economic force. Claudia, I loved your line in Marie Claire last year, when you said that migration is ancient, unstoppable and positive.

Claudia Edelman (02:57): Migration is not only ancient, unstoppable and positive but also can reduce inequality, accelerate growth and development only if it’s well managed, which is why migration was included in the Sustainable Development Goals. To start with, let’s see, global goal 10 is ‘Reduction of Inequality’ both within and among nations and to help achieve that goal 10 calls on countries, let me quote this, Edie, “To facilitate or the least safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies”, which is what the Global Compact for Migration is all about.

Edie Lush (03:40): And as you know from our last episode, pretty much nothing about Ibrahim’s trek from, his village in, Sierra Leone to the North African coast was orderly, safe or regular. More like fate takes a hand meets the survival of the fittest. Let’s quickly recap that episode… It all started with Ibrahim’s flight from tribal initiation.

Ibrahim Kondeh (04:06): I had to, like, fend for myself. The very first night. I slept on a stall at the Lorry Park.

Claudia Edelman (04:15): Ibrahim’s story illustrates the plight of what the UN calls irregular migrants. Irregular being a polite way of saying outside the regular authority of police or governments.

Ibrahim Kondeh (04:28): We were dumped in Niger. A huge number of us. Those that can afford it at that particular time had to pay again to move… we paid the traffickers about 300 or 400 US dollars to take us to Tripoli. They told us it will take us two days to reach in Tripoli, but we actually spent one week in the desert before we were able to see normal land or buildings… going through the desert you could see like fossils like remains of people that I’ve just been dumped left to dry out in the sand.

Edie Lush (05:08): And before reaching their promised destination of Tripoli. The journey comes to an unexpected halt in Sabha that notorious hive of human trafficking.

Ibrahim Kondeh (05:17): I couldn’t exit the gate without the permission. So he’s like, you have to work in order to pay for… like a ransom actually. So I was there for a couple of months, like working daily…

Claudia Edelman (05:31): Like so much of Ibrahim’s journey. Faith was to play its part in the next stage…

Ibrahim Kondeh (05:37): Every Friday, 26 people are supposed to leave. And so, one evening while they were counting, they were only 25, and so they just saw me because I was one of the youngest little boys among a group. And so they just went: come, go with them. So that was when I had to leave that place. That was the only opportunity I had to leave on that fateful evening.

Claudia Edelman (06:10): And this is where we rejoin Ibrahim and Daniel on a Mediterranean beach in Libya.

Ibrahim Kondeh (06:19): At the seaside, it was fairly cold and very cold. It was in December. We had to be outside and we would get food, a loaf of bread once a day. I was there for like two weeks because we had to wait for the construction of the dingies and also the weather condition.

Ibrahim Kondeh (06:44): When the time came, one evening, around 12 to 12:30 AM, on the 12th of December, they called us. 130 to 140 of us that loaded in that boat that morning.

Edie Lush (07:03): This is a boat made for 70 people, which was crammed with nearly twice that many.

Ibrahim Kondeh (07:10): I was the first person that’s entered because when the boat came, I was one of the people that took the boat into the water. So the others you have to walk into water that you go to at a certain height you could climb into the dingy. We were from different nationalities. There are also people from Bangladesh, from Pakistan, there were some other guys from Morocco mixed nationalities and we were packed in this boat.

Claudia Edelman (07:39): For months, as they travel North, Ibrahim and Daniel had been inseparable, but on that chilly night, Ibrahim sat alone in the prow of the boat.

Ibrahim Kondeh (07:52): Daniel later came in. I wasn’t able to see or talk with him. The last time I saw him was before when we were standing in the line before I took the boat to the water.

Claudia Edelman (08:02): The traffickers said a few parting words…

Ibrahim Kondeh (08:06): They told this that this will take us three hours to get to Italy. That was a lie. The boy that was like moving the boat, didn’t know what he was doing. He didn’t know how to use a compass and they just gave us two gallons of fuel. They say, well that will take you guys to Italy.

Edie Lush (08:27): Separated from Daniel in an overcrowded boat.

Ibrahim Kondeh (08:31): We were scared of talking or shouting because there was a group that we were praying not to meet. They were called the Asthma boys, a gang or rebel group that chases boats around in the water, catch them, take them to their own camp and then request for money and after these people paid and then they will load them again to continue. their journey. So that is their job, how they get their money. And then, we have the problem of the coastal guards as well, when you, are caught they take you to prison. So we couldn’t shout, we couldn’t talk to each other.

Edie Lush (09:08): Three hour stretch turned into night and a day, jammed or choked, as Ibrahim put it into that bare seaworthy boat.

Ibrahim Kondeh (09:18): We were choked up and some people were down, couldn’t do anything. And we came to a point where the tide of the sea was very high. So the boat was like swinging up and down. I was actually sitting in water, there was just like two long piece of board that deletes at the floor of the boat. And so because of the tides, a lot of water entered, it was really, really rough… [Ibrajim sobs]

Ibrahim Kondeh (09:46): We saw them coming like in little speedboats come towards us. We were scared. We thought it’s was like this group that’s used to catch people and take them to prison. So we were scared and when they came and they asked if we have weapons or how many are we in there if there are babies with pregnant women. And so then we realized that they were people to rescue us, so everyone started shouting, crying… the boy that was steering the boat had to remove the engine and dumped it into the sea. He was scared. If they saw him, he will be arrested and accused of being the trafficker. As we were unable to go further.

Claudia Edelman (10:40): A British rescue sheep had spotted them along with two other boatloads of migrants. The rescue workers asked Ibrahim’s boat to wait, but adrift in the tossing sea. Now without an engine waiting was easier to say than to do…

Ibrahim Kondeh (10:56): A lot of people started becoming panicked and some guys were standing, some were shouting… and it’s become very chaotic, like, everyone was so worried and afraid. Then they came for the little children and the pregnant women, they took them out after that. They had to, like, start drawing the boat with a rope… but during that time the side where the engine was. The weight was so much down there because the waters entered and so it began to sink down. And so that was when some people decided to like jump into the sea to try to swim. The distance was long. So some of them that jumped couldn’t make it and when the boat started and like sinking. Other people were trying to rush to come to the front where at least it was a little bit higher. And that was how a lot of people lost their lives.

Edie Lush (11:59): Only later, after he’d been plucked from the sinking boat and taken to the British ship, was Ibrahim able to grasp the scale of what had happened and the toll.

Ibrahim Kondeh (12:10): When we entered the ship, there were many people inside that, people that they rescued before. On that day, we were about 600 that were rescued in that particular ship and my number was 453. Everyone has a number. My number was 453.

Claudia Edelman (12:30): Ibrahim searched the crowded ship for Daniel…

Ibrahim Kondeh (12:34): When entered I thought like he reached before me or he’s on his way coming or is on the other speed boat… so I started looking around the different people, I started searching… and he wasn’t there. And then I realize, yeah, he was one of the people that couldn’t make it. I wasn’t able to see him again. And then they asked us if we have any clue about the people that couldn’t come because they, they realized that some people had drowned and then that was when I started asking. I called out, I knew someone that is down there. We stayed there for a couple of minutes and then the ship had to move. I never found out officially what happened. If his body was found, I don’t know. Never had that opportunity… [Ibrahim sobs].

Claudia Edelman (13:40): 30,000 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean in the past few years. 50 to 60 of those drowned that night, including Ibrahim’s friend from childhood, Daniel…

Edie Lush (13:56): They had come so far together. Ibrahim and Daniel were so close to their goal when tragedy hit.

Claudia Edelman (14:09): The ship took Ibrahim and the other survivors to Italy.

Ibrahim Kondeh (14:13): When we arrived, we were taken to the reception center in Calabria for unaccompanied minors. I was given a phone to like call my parents.

Claudia Edelman (14:26): On a borrowed phone, Ibrahim called his mom.

Ibrahim Kondeh (14:29): The first thing she said that she thought I was dead.

Edie Lush (14:34): She hadn’t heard from him for nine months, which then brought the questions moms ask everywhere.

Ibrahim Kondeh (14:40): She was like “why didn’t you call me??? I thought something bad had happened to you! I thought you are dead!” She shouted so loud that I am alive. And then she asked, “where are you?” And then I told her where I was and she was like “how did you manage to be there, what happened? You didn’t call me all this while! How are you?”.

Ibrahim Kondeh (15:03): My mom doesn’t know actually all the things that I went through. I never spoke with her explaining everything. I didn’t really explain things to her because I know how she might react to hearing that because she has blood pressure and so I don’t want anything bad to happen with her health so…

Claudia Edelman (15:27): Ibrahim was alone in a promised land where he and Daniel had dreamed of reaching together. He was 17 years old.

Ibrahim Kondeh (15:36): When I first arrived. I never talked about my journey because everything was so hard to explain. Thinking about how we were close and what happened or what I’ve been through… Those are memories, they have been chasing me like wildfires in the dry season, I could say. It’s so hard to think about. And so… as most times, I tend not to not to actually talk about it. It’s very hard.

Pause (16:07): [background music]

Edie Lush (16:11 And the work was not over. Physical danger receded, but Italy brought new challenges.

Ibrahim Kondeh (16:17): I had that thought, that imagination of how my life will be like, how am I have my… the possibility to go to school. The Europe we saw on TV was: lights everywhere, beautiful houses, high buildings, and rich people. And then, in my reception camp, it is quite different. And mainly because it was a reception camp and we were many, a lot of people have to wait for each other to go to the bathroom. There were changes that were normal. Now it was quite understanding, right? A different cultural, different environment. In fact, it was in December. I’m from West Africa, it’s very hot there. And here it was super cold, for the very first time I had to feel that. But it was normal. And um, I had to learn a new language. These were all understandable. But there was one thing that I wasn’t expecting, like going out and people actually see from a distance and then go to the other side. Once I asked why and then I was told that we were first set of people of color, with that amount of number, that has ever lived in that community. So people were really scared of us, and that really pains. There are some people who were very rude that they, that walk past you in speed. Some tend to cover their nose. So all of these things were beyond my imagination. Mental and emotionally. It’s very, very, very, very hard. There’s no proper access to help for the people living in reception centers. And sometimes if you talk they will say if you think that here is very hard, why are you here, why don’t you just stay where your home is. These are people that working in the camp. I stayed there for 11 months when I was actually supposed to be there for three months. I bought into what they told us, but I was there for 11 months, like waiting for the documentation process and I didn’t have like anything to do. I didn’t have the opportunity to go to school there, because by them they said, uh, my Italian wasn’t good.

Claudia Edelman (18:46): To most of us, a mobile phone is a gadget, but to Ibrahim, it was much more a lifeline. But first, he needed to raise the money to buy a phone. As he told Edie…

Ibrahim Kondeh (19:00): I had no money to do that and so the people that were running the camp owns the hotel. And so what the deal is like they had to offer us a job and we would work from eight in the morning until four or five in the evening and they would pay us five euros a day! And I went.

Edie Lush (19:21): Wow!

Ibrahim Kondeh (19:21): Yes, five euros a day, and I worked for a complete one month in order to get 150 euros to buy myself a phone. I was so desperate to have a mobile phone because that was the only chance I could get to speak with my family.

Claudia Edelman (19:37): But connecting with his family was only one of the benefits.

Ibrahim Kondeh (19:41): So when I got the phone, I started like connecting to the internet, Facebook or any other social media. And also downloading apps, which I could use to learn the Italian language.

Edie Lush (19:54): Wow. What apps did you use?

Ibrahim Kondeh (19:57): I used Duolingo and um, several other free apps.

Claudia Edelman (20:01): Ibrahim supplemented the Italian, he was learning on Duolingo with language classes at an adult education center. He eventually received a basic education certificate.

Edie Lush (20:12): And with your phone you were able to use an SMS service that UNICEF is involved in, is that right?

Ibrahim Kondeh (20:22): Yes, messenger through Facebook.

Edie Lush (20:24): And what did you use that for?

Ibrahim Kondeh (20:26): To ask questions, because, in the camp, the people that were running the camp couldn’t understand me that much cause I couldn’t speak Italian. So when U-Report came and told us about their platform and it told me that the questions will be answered in the language that we prefer. It was like welcoming news because I had so many questions that I wanted to know the answers to, pertaining to my documentation process and how I was living my life in that reception center.

Edie Lush (20:58): How did it work? You had a Facebook messenger and you just started firing questions off?

Ibrahim Kondeh (21:03): Yeah.

Edie Lush (21:04): What were those questions?

Ibrahim Kondeh (21:05): I sent so many messages, so many messages… on how to go for my document because the camp that I was living, they work so slowly, like, there was nothing moving. So I want you to know if I can do it myself. And then they told me that yes I can do it myself because the camp has to deal with so many other people that are seeking asylum. So then I started moving, going for my ID card, which I did by myself and so many other processes that I did by myself. So that really helped me in going through my documentation process.

Edie Lush (21:42): Where there lawyers on the other end of your messaging service feeding information to you. Was that what was happening?

Ibrahim Kondeh (21:48): Yes, they were lawyers that know more about how the asylum process works in Italy.

Edie Lush (21:53): And how long after you started using the platform? Did you get documents to move on?

Ibrahim Kondeh (22:02): Within five to six months, I was able to start receiving answers from the questions at the police office, and having appointment dates, or where to go for medical checks and um, to take ID cards.

Claudia Edelman (22:16): And UNICEF did not just give Ibrahim a lifeline to lawyers, but also helped him get back to school.

Ibrahim Kondeh (22:23): With the help of a lady that works at UNICEF, she sends me a link one day about this advert she saw that people are giving scholarships to young migrants and refugees that came to Italy as a minor. So I happened to apply and I was called for an interview and also the test. And I got called that I have been accepted. So presently I am doing an International Baccalaureate program, IB diploma for two years, and so I can renew my documents. I can have a student stay permit now instead of a job permit all losing my stay.

Edie Lush (23:09): Claudia, remember Mohamed Yahya from the last episode talking about how so many migrants were chasing their dreams to Europe? Ibrahim may have left home fearing for his life, but that turned into the dream of building a different life for himself. Now, Ibrahim wants to stay and attend university in Europe, but things are far from certain. A change in government or rules for migrants could be enough to throw Ibrahim long term plans off track.

Ibrahim Kondeh (23:37): If I was back home, my life would’ve been more stable than here because I was in school. I actually thought I’d imagine I had a great future ahead. Well here, I’ve lost so many years of school and I’m still fighting, although I could say right now on the right track trying to catch up again.

Claudia Edelman (24:04): That SMS messaging service that Ibrahim used was part of something called U-Report. It was a big help for Ibrahim just when he needed it. Tanya Accone from UNICEF who introduced us to Ibrahim says that was the idea.

Tanya Accone (24:22): We have a use of U-Report which is called On The Move and it really reaches out to young refugees and migrants who arrive with nothing, in this case in Italy, and it’s around how to help them at their moment of most vulnerability. They don’t know the system, they don’t know what they’re meant to do. They have no network and they’re incredibly vulnerable. They’re under 18, they feel like they cannot go to any official municipal body, or the police, or anywhere, for any help because they’re undocumented. You can imagine if you’re fleeing for your life and or you’ve been through countless situations of being transported from X to Y place, you may have lost or may never have had the right kinds of documentation that you need. So they also are not aware if they’re allowed to get any health services if they’re allowed to go to school if they’re allowed to be anywhere. Do they need to run from the police? Every time they see an official person, they have no idea what their rights are at all typically. And it’s about how can we reach and help those young people at their most vulnerable moment to claim their rights and to get them to be able to access services and to protect them. You know, what does this mean? A simple SMS tool? Can it change your life? And I think Ibrahim would say yes it has.

Edie Lush (25:45 Not only did U-Report give Ibrahim access to guidance through the thickest of laws and rules covering migrants. This mobile phone message system gave him the opportunity to share and process some of the trauma of his journey and experiences.

Ibrahim Kondeh (26:01): They made a competition for people to give out their views. It can be video, a song, whatever someone wishes to participate with. And so I had to sit down and like reflect on my journey and all the things that I have been through. There was no one that I could talk to most of the time. So I just used to write, just to free myself from that dark past that I had. So I decided to like to write upon it. And so when I shared it with them and they liked it, they said I have won! I won the competition! I was surprised that someone would like them. So that was when I started, I kept on writing.

Claudia Edelman (26:49): Here at the Global GoalsCast we have been deeply touched by Ibrahim’s, courage, first courage, making his journey and then courage in telling the world about it. And we love his poem. An extract of that poem can be heard in our previous episode, which covers the first part of Ibrahim’s journey.

Claudia Edelman (27:08): Edie, this is a really touching moment for both of us, I think. A boy whose voice has never been heard, number 453, and he has this beautiful moment when he realizes that he has something to say, his story is important. His poem has been selected. I think that that’s such an incredible sense of, all of a sudden being visible.

Edie Lush (27:43): Which is what we’re trying to do here on the Global GoalsCast. I actually felt incredibly touched that he chose to share his story with us when I still don’t think he’s ever told it to his mother and I think his mother has now listened to this podcast, so she’s also hearing some of it for the first time.

Claudia Edelman (28:00): Wow. I actually have to admit, I would love to know if we can reach the mother of Ibrahim and let her listen to this, but hey, she has a blood pressure, right? Like I don’t know. I don’t want to think. I won’t. I won’t push that one.

Edie Lush (28:16): Hang on. Stop press. We’ve just received a message from Ibrahim saying that his mom hasn’t yet listened to the podcast, but his brother has and he is going to play the podcast to his mom because she can’t actually use the internet yet. So…

Claudia Edelman (28:30): Oh, that’s so amazing!

Edie Lush (28:30): I feel like we’re connecting the dots. I feel like we’re gonna show Ibrahim’s mom what an amazing person he is. She probably already knows that though.

Claudia Edelman (28:44): The most important part that I have realized through this journey of Ibrahim and Daniel, first of all, is that we’re all human. At the end of the day, having lost your best friend on a journey where you’re like trying to get something and all of a sudden you’re sitting down on the edge of a boat on your own, it’s such a human story. I can relate to that so dramatically, but at the same time, it stroke me how do you know like UNICEF and people like Chris Fabian inventing U-Report, you know like someone we know has been able to save someone’s life like Ibrahim. That’s amazing! And how many other technology pieces can we add to this equation to make them touch the life of someone?

Edie Lush (29:28): Actually, I think it was your idea to have this whole season be called technology and transformation, Claudia, so well done! Because I actually think that this story is exactly that. Ibrahim was pretty much doing everything he could. This is a kid with grit, with resilience, with real courage and actually a lot of bravery and a little bit of bravado possibly to make him get across Africa, but it was a really tough grind until he gets that mobile phone. And that mobile phone was able to transfer that grit and resilience and that human intelligence into stuff that actually changed his life. Helping him get a health card, helping him find out about scholarships to an incredible school in Italy and helping him now go back to school when he had to flee all those years ago. It is incredible. It is a story of our times. That’s what I really love about the story of Ibrahim.

Claudia Edelman (30:27): But overall like the transformation of technology. I can see it now out working on, for example, all their spaces just like not life-threatening, but also access to Latinas. Edie, Latinas have a huge issue with that technology being a friend or a frenemy when it comes to having access to capital. So Latinos create six times faster than any other group in America, small businesses. And so they start a little kitchen, they start a little business here, but they don’t scale out for more than two or three employees. And that is because we don’t have access to capital, we don’t have a credit history, we don’t have financial literacy. All of those issues can be solved by technology. So Ibrahim’s life and the Latina life who wants to scale up and none of us want to be that entrepreneur. You know, like becoming an employer, having 100 employees is all through technology. I think that in the next decade of action that we’re going to starting 2020, I think that technology has to be the center of everything we’re doing so that we can really achieve the Global Goals.

Edie Lush (31:34): And I’m so inspired by actually listening to the stories from a lot of our partners from the World Food Programme, from UNICEF, from UNDP of how they’ve all started their own innovation centers and startups almost for entrepreneurs and they are putting technology in the hands of those people who need it but also who can transform their own lives.

Claudia Edelman (31:55): The one thing that pisses me off dramatically is that we did an episode on migration at the time of the launch of the Global Compact for Migration and that was 2000 what was it? 17! And nevertheless, the conversation was the same we have to humanize the stories of the people. Migration is positive, ancient, and unstoppable. We need to understand migration as opposed to fear it. And here we are, Edie, two years after, one Brexit about to happen, the break of Europe through migration. You know like countries and countries divided by fear, migration being the biggest enemy and the elephant in the room. And yet we still haven’t made a lot of progress. It seems to be stagnant, if not more. I think that we should get every one of our listeners to do something. Think about someone that they know on a paid tribute to a migrant be someone you know in your close family or someone else. The way that we’re trying to do it here because I think that if we’re going to ever break the cycle, we have to do this together and if humanizing migration is the story, then we have to all be part of the solution.

Edie Lush (33:05): By encouraging our listeners to do that, we can show how the power of technology and social media can break barriers. Tanya Accone at UNICEF has also told us that there are plans to expand this U-Report. 10 agencies across five countries are now moving to launch a version as part of the response to the upheavals in Venezuela. And that’s a great segue to this episode’s facts and actions from Mathias Devi. He’s using innovation specialist at UNICEF’s Office of Innovation. Mathias manages the Global U-Reports platform that has had such a positive impact for Ibrahim

Mathias Devi (33:44): Fact number one, refugees are a wildly diverse group. Even those coming from the same country. I think this is often forgotten or people are surprised when you mentioned that you’ve sat down and spoke to a doctor, an Instagram influencer, and a member of an indigenous people on the same day. So the word refugee quickly refers to a stereotype, negative stereotype. And I think this is a good fact to keep in mind when speaking about refugees and migration issues. The second fact, knowing that Ibrahim has shared his story on this podcast, is that his story is just one in many and just like Ibrahim, the many children like him want to go to school. This is in fact repeatedly the single most important thing that young people raise when we speak with them through our youth engagement platform – U report. But more than 30 million children are displaced around the world. Who commonly lose between one to four years of school. And that’s a fact. Thirdly, trust is key. This may be more of a perceived effect than a hard fact, but I have experienced over and over again in this work. The trust is so important. Refugees are rarely looking for luxury, but for life, they can rely on, stable access to school, access to reliable services, trustworthy information about their situation. This is exactly what U-Report On the Move is trying to deliver. Reliable information about your situation and the place you’re in, advice in your legal status, referrals to accessible services and so on.

Mathias Devi (35:13): So the first action you can take personally is to remember what a refugee is and what a refugee is not. Retire that stereotypical review of refugees and speak about these issues in the constructive solution-oriented way around the dinner table and in your daily interactions with people. Secondly, support youth to speak up and hear them. Whatever you’re working on, whatever you’re designing, whatever you’re promoting. Remember that 1.8 billion people in your potential audience are children and youth and that 90% of these live in developing countries. This group has lots to say and listening can both improve your work and their lives massively. Lastly, looping these points back into U-Report. I’d like to say that U-Report as a tool for all youth to raise their voices, battle stereotypes, connecting youth to services on a global scale. We’re currently operating in 65 countries with more than 8.5 million users growing by a quarter million users every month. The key to providing ever greater services and reaching more youth is partnerships. We currently have more than 350 partners worldwide, but if you are listening to this and think your company, agency, NGO, the local youth group has something to offer and want to get involved either at a country-specific level or at global level, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Edie Lush (36:37): Thanks to Mathias Devi for those facts and actions and thanks to Ibrahim for sharing his story.

Claudia Edelman (36:45): Thanks for listening. Please like us. Subscribe via iTunes or whatever you get your podcasts, and follow us on social media @GlobalGoalsCast. See you next time. Bye-bye.

Edie Lush (36:56): Adios.

Michelle Cooperider (37:01): Global GoalsCast was hosted by Edie Lush and Claudia Romo Edelman. We are editorial gurued by Mike Oreskes, editing and sound production by Simon James. Our operations director is Michelle Cooprider and our interns Tina Pastore and Brittney Segura. Music, in this episode, was courtesy of Universal Production Music, original music by Neil Hale, Angelica Garcia, Simon James, Kaity Crone, and Andrew Phillips. This episode is brought to you by Mastercard, creating scalable solutions for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Thanks. Also, CBS News Digital and Harman, the official sound of Global GoalsCast.