27 May 2015
Nawal Al-Sofi never leave her mobile phone after her number became the first thing that connect a large number of Syrian refugees stranded at sea for help and relief.
In one day’s morning of summer 2013, Nawal received the first call from aghast person, hundreds of Syrian were lost in the Mediterranean on a boat threatened to sink after the water began seep to it.
This call surprised Nawal, but she went immediately to inform the Italians Coast Guard who explained to her how she can help immigrants know their location coordinates using GPS system in a satellite phone, to guide rescue teams to find them.
After long hours of silence, finally she received the news, they were all safe, since that time, this scenario was repeated hundreds of times.
In a statement to AFP, said this young woman: “I can get a call at any time. Immigrants in the sea shouting: We 500 person in one boat, ran out of water, we are at sea for 10 days”, a book was published last week in Italy entitled “Nawal..angel refugees”.
One day’s night in this May, Nawal had to do efforts for five hours to calm her caller and get the coordinates of boat site by GPS, which the only important information that finally made it possible to save 345 migrants, a third of them children.
She said: “refugee shelter system is weak in Italy, but it has one of the best relief systems in Europe”.
Nawal was born in Morocco, and went to Catania at the foot of Etna Mount when she was in the third week of age, she interested in the Syrian revolution, starting from the spring of 2011 and spent long nights on the social networking with activists opposed to the Syrian regime.
In March 2013 she accompanied the ambulance carrying drugs to Aleppo and given her number to the participants at every meeting held.
This number is moving between who wanting to leave, and even if Nawal put the Coast Guard number in a prominent place on the front of her page in Facebook, her phone never stops ringing.
The evening of 20 April, she was on the pavement of Catania between dozens of journalists, who flocked to transfer the Proceedings of the arrival of 28 people survived from the sinking which resulted in the deaths of about 800 people two days ago, but she did not have time to be sad, she received another call to ask for help.
And to this communication that do not stop, add contacts conducted by concerned relatives want to know is their children or their mothers or their spouses survived.
Sometimes she tried to give her phone to other people in order to rest a little bit, but they have taken back after 24 hours, because the concern expressed by the people beyond their ability to stand.
Nawal studying political science in Catania and working at the same time part-time translator in Sicily courts, she also spent long time in Catania train station, where a number of immigrants recently arrived and seek to follow-up their trip to northern Europe.
She said: “My job is to obstruct the work of smugglers across the land border and to explain to the refugees that they can switch their dollars in the bank or ride the train to Milan,” without the use of fraudster mediators.
Every night she returns to sleep in her family home, “the essential foundation” that provide her with tenderness and supports in what she is doing.