“Corona will end, eh!”
As part of the “1 Billion Voices” project which aims to shed light on the members of the diaspora who send billions of euros in remittances to their countries of origin, Mirana Rajoharison, Senior Membership Impact and Evaluation Officer of ADEPT, tells us about a meeting with a young person during her recent mission in the Gambia.
What do Sushi, Dynamite  and Bolognese have in common, in 3 letters? No idea what they all have in common? Here’s another clue: speaks 4 European languages and Wolof. And the answer is: I-D-Y.
Fate had me quarantined in a hotel in Banjul with Idy. This 30-year-old Senegalese football fan graciously agreed to answer my questions. Like other passengers on the Brussels-Banjul flight, we are waiting to be tested for COVID-19 in the hotel garden. The air is fresh, several birds are chirping, the Gambia is a real blessing for amateur ornithologists.
I thought he was Gambian. “I am Were and I live in London.” He is waiting for a call before he can continue his trip to Luga, Senegal, so the youngster checks his phone regularly. Asked about his work in London, he replies: “I am a chef. Before the corona, I worked for a Thai restaurant. Before that I worked for an Italian and a Japanese. “He knows all the secrets of a crispy Karaage chicken or a divine Carbonara”.
Before London, he lived in Barcelona in Spain, Vercelli in Italy, and Rouen in France. From these stays, he learned languages. He is fluent in Italian, Spanish, French, and English. And of course his mother tongue, Wolof. “I like to change countries, it’s my way of traveling. I have time to discover the country, the people.” Their language and their cuisine too, apparently.
His wife and 4-year-old daughter live in Senegal with his mother. “I send them £100 to £200 a month. I used to send via Western Union or Ria, but now I use the Taptap Send application . “He shows me the application on his smartphone. “It’s very easy to use and my wife receives it directly to her mobile wallet. It’s also cheaper. “Since he switched to Taptap, he had reduced costs by £3 per transfer. When I ask him what such a saving in his wife’s basket means, he laughs: “It’s a day’s meal for two people, my wife and I can eat out for that amount.
When asked about the impact of COVID-19 on his work, he frowns: “I had to stop working, and I’ve done a lot of exercises to avoid being depressed, it’s hard…”. On the subject of remittances, he adds: “I had to maintain the same monthly amount for my family, their needs are the same, corona or not! “He benefited from the furlough plan  and received 80% of his salary. Like many migrants who have seen a reduction or even loss of salary, he took it upon himself to maintain family resources. Now that the UK is confined and the vaccination campaign has started, he took the opportunity to go to Luga to start a small business: “I want to start a poultry farm with my nephew and sell eggs. Once the farm is set up, he will return to the UK to resume his work as a chef.
Two years ago, he had a positive view of his future. And what about today? “I’m still confident about the future, Corona’s going to finish soon, eh! “