“I’m from Jarra, a rural space within the Decrease River Area of The Gambia, in the midst of the nation. I moved to the capital, Banjul, after I was 15, to dwell with my brother and go to highschool. I didn’t graduate, although, as a result of we couldn’t afford the charges.
Round 5 years in the past, after I was about 20, my pals inspired me to go away The Gambia. This isn’t a rich nation, and we heard that individuals had left, and have become profitable in Europe, sending a reimbursement to their households.
I wished to go to Italy, as a result of I assumed that this was the simplest European nation to get to. I knew that many individuals had died attempting to get to Europe, however I assumed that I might make it.
Step one was neighbouring Senegal, and from there we obtained a bus to Mauritania. I stayed there, with my sister’s husband, for 5 months, doing building work, and no matter I might, to earn cash for the subsequent stage of the journey.
From Mauritania I went to Mali. This was a really lengthy bus journey, and it took about 12 hours to get to the capital, Bamako. There have been many different Gambians on the bus. Then we went to Agadez, in central Niger, by way of Burkina Faso. At every stage, we needed to pay to be allowed to proceed. We felt in peril however, by that stage, it was too late to return.
There have been about 25 of us in an open pickup truck, driving by the desert, with no shade. It was extremely popular and uncomfortable. We drove for 3 days, sleeping within the desert. At evening, it was very chilly, and we had to purchase blankets and massive jackets to maintain us heat.
‘I used to be scared they might shoot us’
Typically the drivers had been good individuals, however others had been very harsh, and they’d beat us. Once we obtained into Libya, we had been crushed, and all of our cash was taken from us. Fortunately, I had hidden some meals within the bus. The individuals who beat us had weapons, and I used to be very scared that they might shoot us.
The following stage of the journey was to Sabhā, in central Libya. As a result of I had no cash, I needed to keep in Sabhā for 4 months, discovering work to pay for my fare to Tripoli.
If you journey from Sabhā to Tripoli, it’s important to be smuggled in. If you’re seen, individuals would possibly kill you, so I needed to cover in a darkish room with no lights for 3 days. This was in the course of the civil battle, and there was numerous hazard.
‘They shot the boat’
I needed to wait over a yr in Tripoli earlier than I might get to the coast and take a ship for Italy. One in all my brothers discovered the cash for me to get a spot on the boat. Earlier than we set off, there was some capturing and we quickly realized that our boat was taking up water:.
There have been armed males who didn’t need us to go away for Europe, so they simply shot the boat, not caring if any of us died within the water. Our solely possibility was to show again in direction of the Libyan coast and, when the boat had taken on an excessive amount of water, we swam to shore.
Once we arrived on shore, we had been taken to a detention centre. We had been crushed by troopers, who informed us to present them cash, however I had nothing left. I needed to keep there for 2 months in these harsh, soiled situations. Our telephones had been taken from us so we couldn’t contact our households; lots of them although that we had been lifeless.
Beginning once more from zero
Ultimately, individuals from the UN got here to the centre. They gave us garments and a few meals and supplied us a voluntary flight again to The Gambia.
I used to be very unhappy: I had misplaced the whole lot and must begin once more from zero. I didn’t wish to return dwelling, however I had no selection.
After I arrived in The Gambia, the UN migration company (IOM) supplied to assist me to start out a enterprise. They requested me what I wished to do and, due to my expertise working in building, I informed them that I might promote cement.
They offered me with tailor-made in-kind assist within the type of a cement enterprise, however, sadly, the place I discovered to retailer the luggage of cement was not protected against the climate: it was the wet season, and the water reached all the cement. It was ruined.
I went again to the UN to ask for extra assist, and so they supplied me abilities coaching. This was very helpful, and I used to be capable of get a certificates and return to working with aluminium. I obtained a job working in a pal’s store in Banjul, which sells aluminium window frames.
Sooner or later, as soon as I can increase the cash, I plan to open my very own store. I’m married now and I’ve two kids. I wish to succeed right here now, and I wouldn’t attempt to retry that journey to Europe. It’s too dangerous. Should you don’t succeed, you lose the whole lot.”
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