Migrants: from Gambia to the Alps, working on the "Igloo Village"

Migrants: from Gambia to the Alps, working on the "Igloo Village"

Rome - For Omar Kanteh, a Gambian migrant living in Italy, the subtropical environment he grew up in has been replaced by one in which living spaces can be constructed from blocks of snow. Kanteh's base is San Simone di Valleve, a village in the Alta Valle Brembana on the Italian Alps near Bergamo once known for its ski slopes. As reported by Charlene Pele for the Washington Post, when financial troubles brought the winter sports to a halt, a group of 80 migrants and asylum seekers took up residence in the village's local hotel. David Midali, a local restaurateur, saw an opportunity to bring business back to the San Simone - he constructed a series of igloos for rent. Many of the village's new residents took up the challenge with him. The tactic paid off and reservations to stay in the igloos rolled in, as did the hordes of curious tourists who wanted to take pictures next to the icy habitats. The provided an opportunity to boost local commerce, while fostering new bonds between migrants and members of the host community. "It's not about me being from Africa and him from Europe," Kanteh told the Washington Post: "We are all from one race". The igloos, which were set up as a mini-village, sleep 18 altogether and have been fully booked on weekends since mid-January. Curious people stop by to snap photographs or for a peek inside the snow domes. Schools in Milan and Bergamo have brought children up for field trips. For 100 euros per person, a couple can dine at Midali's restaurant, sleep in an igloo and eat an organic breakfast before embarking on a guided snowshoe excursion in the Valle Brembana mountains.