From abused garbage collector to community leader

We met Ryden at Rizzles at St Francis Square as he had an inspiring story to share. He moved to Malta from the Philippines, leaving his HR manager and singing career behind to start a new life in Europe. His decision was influenced by his Scottish friend who he met in the Philippines a few years back.

He arrived with a job already arranged for him, so he could started as a garbage collector straight away. Ryden was shocked how much racist comments and he was receiving.

Another people done good to him offering to move into an apartment but then kept mentionoing and made an issue of few days of delay with rent payment

He approached the priest in Xlendi to join the chorus, then later he got into astra teatru.

He helped people in his community to cope with difficulties during lockdown

His community respects him and he established a good life despite the discouraging racist comments and other difficulties.

“Marsalforn is a f###ing ghetto” says Nigerian immigrant

Marsalforn in Gozo has gone through a construction boom in the past decade, transforming from the pretty beachside town into a concrete mess. Because of the congestion and poorly built buildings lacking any style and comfort, Marsalforn apartment rental prices are among the lowest in the entire country. This is the primary reason why Marsalforn is a popular place to stay for immigrants, asylum seekers and temporary workers primarily from Eastern Europe.

We met our first interview applicant by the construction site next to the Lighthouse supermarket. Carefully stepping over a pile of garbage, Banjoko from Nigeria starts the conversation by expresses his opinion:

“Marsalforn is a fucking ghetto”

His limited English would make it difficult to share the entire conversation, but briefly he expressed that he deeply regretted coming to Malta, and he will move on as soon as travel be possible. Banjoko highlighted that the streets of Marsalforn are dirtier compared to Nigeria.

Coming from a wealthy family, Banjoko paid a hefty price to arrive to Europe. He does not work, as he cannot find a job for his career level. Back in Nigeria he used to work as an architect but in Malta he would only find construction, agricultural or restaurant hand jobs. In Marsalforn he is renting a two bedroom apartment and sub-lets one bedroom to his friends so his living expenses are covered. He regularly receives money from Nigeria, so taking a low-level job is not necessary.

He highlighted that his black friends often receive racist comments and threats primarily from older Maltese people. They are being called “animals” or reminded that coming to Malta must be a welcome change compared to Nigeria.

Because of the racist comments, Banjoko and his friends try to avoid contact with Maltese people, but they can comfortably socialize with other immigrants and asylum seekers. He finds Serbians to be funny and friendly. Based on his feedback, he is popular among white ladies, especially single mothers or those who are unhappy in their marriage.