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On Christmas Eve in 2001, Hassan Ali, then a 13-year-old migrant from Egypt, was saved from a capsizing dinghy when he was crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. After spending time in a refugee camp in Sicily, Italy, Ali decided to dedicate his life to saving other migrants from drowning on similar journeys. Ivette Feliciano reports.
For decades, migrants have risked crossing the Mediterranean for a chance at a new life in Europe and beyond.
Many are children.
On Christmas Eve in 2001 a thirteen year-old Egyptian boy –Hassan Ali–was saved from a capsizing dinghy.
After being sent to a refugee camp in Sicily–where he learned Italian–Ali decided to devote his life to rescuing others.
Newshour Weekend's Ivette Feliciano has the story.
One day in August, the crew of the rescue ship Aquarius locates a small wooden boat filled with migrants drifting in the Mediterranean.
Hassan Ali helps move the stranded passengers to a rescue dinghy.
Ali has made this his life's work after a man he will never know saved him from drowning on a similar journey.
The only thing I remember is that a person pulled me out of the capsizing boat he put me on his shoulders and I saw this person descending slowly under water at a certain point I was already safe and he drowned in front of my eyes. I did not know him, I knew nothing about him, so simply I never can find the right words for his act.
Many of today's migrants speak Ali's native Arabic, making him an important part of the team trying to get them to safety.
This sea has taken away a lot of lives. Actually, people have become used to hearing that thirty people died here or that forty people died there.
Italy's current government is refusing to take many of the migrants crossing the Mediterranean unless other e-u countries take more of them.
It's a policy this young survivor turned rescuer disagrees with.
Nobody must die because we have all the means to save them and if they die it means that someone is to blame and that someone will have to answer to god, however you want to call that God."
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Ivette Feliciano shoots, produces and reports on camera for PBS NewsHour Weekend. Before starting with NewsHour in 2013, she worked as a one-person-band correspondent for the News 12 Networks, where she won a New York Press Club Award for her coverage of Super Storm Sandy, which ravaged the East Coast in 2012. Prior to that, Ivette was the Associate Producer of Latin American news for Worldfocus, a nationally televised, daily international news show seen on Public Television. While at Worldfocus, Ivette served as the show’s Field Producer and Reporter for Latin America, covering special reports on the Mexican drug war as well as a 5-part series out of Bolivia, which included an interview with President Evo Morales. In 2010, she co-produced a documentary series on New York’s baseball history that aired on Channel Thirteen. Ivette holds a Master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she specialized in broadcast journalism.
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