The Stories of Missing Migrants

Mbarka: Bilhasen’s Story

The Stories of Missing Migrants

Mbarka: Bilhasen’s Story

Told by his parents Mbarka and Naser

“Everything’s changed. There’s not an event or holiday where we don’t think of him. Even walking the streets outside I seem to always see his shadow.” – Mbarka


“Before Bilhasen was thinking about escaping the dictatorship, his will to leave had more to do with societal influence. He was young and naive, he saw everyone, all the young men around him leaving and coming back with money. The political side for why he left reared its head later on when he got older. He felt trapped in this system.” – Mbarka

“Ask around here about Bilhasen, they will tell you how good of a person he is. He would help carry things for the elderly even ones he didn’t know. He was loved.  I truly realized he was loved when he had gone missing.. People would approach me whom I’ve never even met and asked about him. They would sometimes tear up.” – Naser

Searching for Bilhasen

“When I went to Italy and spoke with the authorities and the guards, they told me that most of the migrants from the time had made it. There weren’t many who drowned. Also, I cannot ignore the fact that my son’s phone was working 9 months after he left. I just refuse to believe it. I’ll believe he was killed, imprisoned, initiated into a mafia. However, believing that he drowned? Absolutely not. I know my son made it to the other side.” – Naser

“We heard his voice on that phone call. That is proof enough that he made it there, the question is: what happened?” – Naser

“If you have my son, I need him. I will accept him the way he is no matter the condition. Bring me my son that’s all. Or just let me hear his voice. I know that bad things could be happening to him, That he is being influenced to take drugs or being held by the mafia. I don’t care. We will take him just how he is.” – Naser

Impact on Family

“The family life changed the most. We couldn’t enjoy our daughter’s wedding. The invitees were happy, we appeared happy on the outside. But on the inside we were hurting greatly.” – Naser

“The family life changed the most. We couldn’t enjoy our daughter’s wedding. The invitees were happy, we appeared happy on the outside. But on the inside, we were hurting greatly.” – Mbarka

“My daughter comes and visits from Holland. To come to see her family and destress. We try our best to liven the mood and show her a good time. We don’t want her to come here and see us down. That way she would get sad too.” – Naser

“When he left, her conditions, high blood pressure, and diabetes began to flare. So when periods of time would come where she would be sad over him, I couldn’t do the same. I couldn’t be sad with her, it would be too much for her to bear. Sometimes my wife thinks that I’ve forgotten about my son, but that’s not it. I choose to hurt on the inside instead. I have to.” – Naser


Mbarka and Naser’s Message

To all European governments:

“Democracy and freedom are more than just ideologies. They are tangible. You see these ideologies spread on tv and in the media, but when you go to touch it you’ll find nothing.” – Mbarka

To the American government and its citizens:

“We know America is a powerful country. A country with a lot of say and influence. They are capable of putting pressure on the Italian government.”

“And thank you to America, thank you to the University for doing this.”

“Feel for us, understand us. Understand that the way the media portrays us as Muslims is far different than reality. Islam does not condone or come from a place of violence or terrorism. We are human like you. We feel just like you. If something hurts you it will hurt us as well. – Mbarka