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Justice sends a message home

Panorama have returned to West Africa to once again pick up the trail of migrants who are willing to risk everything for the chance of a new life in Europe.

Following on from my work in Destination Europe in September 2007 and Destination UK in January 2008, I have kept a travel log of the team's experiences.

In the coming weeks, I will be blogging about everything from the palpable emotion of a cave that was once used to process slaves being shipped to America, to the intrigue of introducing a group of small children to the myriad intricacies of satellite links, to the need to forego air conditioning for the sake of the camera.

Effiakuma, Ghana.

We're going to attempt something of a first. We've brought with us some fairly sophisticated satellite gear, and we are going to attempt a link up between Justice Amin in Naples, and his old friends in Ghana.


Normally these links throw a signal from the field into a studio, and there's nothing unusual in that. But this time it is to connect two points separated by 3,000 miles and without any studio involvement.

The gear takes a while to set up and we are followed around by crowds of children.
We warn them politely not to stand in front of the dish. The elders of the town warn them again, only with more force. It was striking how obedient they are.

If you shouted at a group of teenagers in the UK not to interfere with a BBC crew, it'd probably just make them worse, and in some cases, we'd receive a faceful of unsavoury language. Here, they listen, and sit quietly where they are told.

The producer, Howard Bradburn, and cameraman Joe Taylor, spend a lot of time unpacking wires and hi-tech gadgets out of sleek black cases. The chickens peck around in the nearby open sewers.

Being a techno-phobe, my job is largely to stay out of the way. I'm told to twist the equipment a few millimetres at a time, first east and then west to try to hook onto a satellite somewhere in the heavens.

A crowd has gathered on old wooden benches around our television set. We're situated in a dusty square with a small pavilion where the men pray and drink tea. Eventually, the fizzy screen is replaced with a fairly clear shot of Naples, and sitting in front of the camera is Justice Amin.

"Hello," he says, "some of you will remember me. I left Effiakuma three years ago to find a better life in Europe." The crowd waves and chatters excitedly.

Justice goes on to warn them not to make the journey.

I won't tell you just yet what they decide to do in the end. But I will write next week to update you on the other twists and turns on our journey as we once again pick up the path of those attempting to risk it all for the promise of a better life in Europe.


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