I have been interested in the issues of migration and refugees since my studies in human rights at university, and I gained more practical knowledge while volunteering for the Italian Red Cross and Caritas’ migration help desk in my hometown, Verona (Italy). With the Italian Red Cross I had a training to become an RFL – restoring family links – operator, i.e. a volunteer who tries and help people find their missing relatives, frequently because of forced migration.

Back to Bern, seeing things differently

Every day going to work I pass by a house in Effingerstrasse 29, Bern. This was an occupation until one morning of February 2017, when a big police operation evicted its residents. That morning, my tram was diverted without notice or explanation, so that it would not pass in front of the house (I also got lost a couple of times…). The next day, for a couple of days, the front door of the house was guarded by two armed policemen, and since then the door and windows are secured with wooden boards and barbed wire.

Bern, Switzerland. Photo by: Claudia Strambini

Since I came back from the A Route to Connect project, every morning seeing that barbed wire reminds me of the camps we visited and the borders we crossed.

There, as here and everywhere in the world, fences, walls and barbed wire are a symbol of privilege, discrimination, injustice. They want to decide who deserves what: who deserves a roof on their head, who deserves safety and security, who deserves freedom of movement, who deserves dignity, who deserves to live. They attempt to delimit lives, and sometimes they succeed in making some lives a hell of a lot harder, but as much as they may try, they will never ever define people’s worth.

Greece. Photo by: Claudia Strambini