Camp Erech : a new project by Ayzoh! in Mauritania

Begin today — with the launch of a crowdfunding campaign on PDB — Camp Erech, a major project by Ayzoh! that combines a social entrepreneurship initiative in the desert of Mauritania – of great importance to the involved communities – with the multimedia storytelling of Riccardo Yahya’s story, a tale rich with extraordinary events that can serve as a source of inspiration and drive for change for all.


In the 1990s, Riccardo De Biase is a successful fashion photographer working between Rome, Milan, and Los Angeles. Upon discovering a severe neurodegenerative disease, he abandons his profession and radically changes his life: he moves to Mauritania, in the desert region of Adrar.

There he meets Fatimatou and decides to settle in her camp, living a semi-nomadic life with her. Furthermore, he converts to Islam and changes his name to Yahya. Today, Riccardo and Fatimatou live in the Camp Erech (sometimes called Erch Camp) with their daughters.

In this new life, Riccardo Yahya defines himself as a “troubadour”: an explorer seeking emotions to share with passing guests at Camp Erech and with travelers he accompanies on his tourist circuits.

Indeed — after leaving the world of professional photography forever — Riccardo Yahya started a travel design business where he organizes customized tourist circuits focused on showcasing the great landscape, historical, and cultural riches of Mauritania.

With the proceeds generated from tourists — in addition to supporting his own family and the people living at Camp Erech — he contributes to managing the school in the nearby village where his daughters study and to starting small entrepreneurial activities for the community.


Riccardo Yahya’s illness progresses inexorably, and he struggles more and more to lead tours and organize circuits that — thanks to his charisma combined with deep knowledge of the territory and great storytelling skills — have become legendary in the field of cultural, anthropological, and responsible tourism.

In addition to telling his extraordinary story, an intervention is therefore necessary to make what he — together with his family and all the people who welcomed him to Camp Erech — has built over the years structural and sustainable over time.

Because we believe that Riccardo Yahya’s story is important and because it might concern you too…

That of Riccardo Yahya and his family is a great story of strength, of how difficulties can turn into opportunities, and of how even from isolation, an energy capable of connecting distant places and people can always emerge.

His story — lived over the years with simplicity, without proclamations or commercial speculations — contains within it all the literary archetypes, the elements that constitute the narrative structure of every great tale: hero, mentor, threshold guardian, messenger, shadow, shapeshifter, catalyst.

These archetypes are the elements that, since ancient times, transform the story of an individual into an epic narrative from which anyone can extract a great lesson for their current situation, a decisive push for their life direction, or a true understanding of the value of the things we believe in because — as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry suggests in one of his famous writings: “…human beings are governed by the Spirit. In the desert, I am worth as much as my gods are worth.”

From Riccardo Yahya’s story, therefore, a life story capable of inspiring many — regardless of cultural level, social status, religion, political ideas, lifestyle, and nationality — can emerge, inspiring them not to give up, not to dwell on self-pity, but to fight to be promoters of their own change and that of the community in which they live.

The working team

Emmanuel Edson
communication + event and exhibition management

Martino Ghielmi / VadoinAfrica
PR + dissemination

Claudio Maria Lerario / Ayzoh!
photography + video shooting + photo editing + editorial design + video editing

Massimo Modesti / Ayzoh!
anthropology + community education

Ubaldo Samuelli / Ayzoh!
design + multimedia exhibition design

Giulia Zhang / Ayzoh!
photography + drone photo/video shooting + audio recordings + interviews + linguistic research