Around 5 years in the past, after I was about 20, my mates inspired me to depart The Gambia. This will not be a rich nation, and we heard that individuals had left, and have become profitable in Europe, sending a refund to their households.
I wished to go to Italy, as a result of I believed that this was the simplest European nation to get to. I knew that many individuals had died attempting to get to Europe, however I believed that I might make it.
The first step 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 means of the desert, with no shade. It was extremely popular and uncomfortable. We drove for 3 days, sleeping within the desert. At night time, 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’
Sometimes the drivers have been good individuals, however others have been very harsh, and they’d beat us. When we obtained into Libya, we have been crushed, and all of our cash was taken from us. Luckily, 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 subsequent stage of the journey was to Sabhā, in central Libya. Because I had no cash, I needed to keep in Sabhā for 4 months, discovering work to pay for my fare to Tripoli.
When 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 conceal in a darkish room with no lights for 3 days. This was throughout the civil conflict, and there was quite a lot of 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 of my brothers discovered the cash for me to get a spot on the boat. Before 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 depart 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 the direction of the Libyan coast and, when the boat had taken on an excessive amount of water, we swam to shore.
When we arrived on shore, we have been taken to a detention centre. We have been crushed by troopers, who instructed us to offer them cash, however I had nothing left. I needed to keep there for 2 months in these harsh, soiled situations. Our telephones have been taken from us so we couldn’t contact our households; a lot of them although that we have been dead.
Starting once more from zero
Eventually, individuals from the UN got here to the centre. They gave us garments and a few meals and provided us a voluntary flight again to The Gambia.
I used to be very unhappy: I had misplaced every thing and must begin once more from zero. I didn’t wish to return house, however I had no selection.
When I arrived in The Gambia, the UN migration company (IOM) provided 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 instructed them that I might promote cement.
They supplied me with tailor-made in-kind help within the type of a cement enterprise, however, sadly, the place I discovered to retailer the luggage of cement was not shielded from 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 provided 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 good friend’s store in Banjul, which sells aluminium window frames.
In the longer term, as soon as I can elevate the cash, I plan to open my very own store. I’m married now and I’ve two youngsters. I wish to succeed right here now, and I wouldn’t attempt to retry that journey to Europe. It’s too dangerous. If you don’t succeed, you lose every thing.”
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