30 years old, Ghana

23 May 2023

“I am from Ghana. My husband is in Germany and is waiting for me to join him. It took me 11 months to arrive here. When I left, I thought the journey would be a maximum of three weeks. 

I first went to Burkina Faso by road and then Niger. This part of the trip was really dangerous. I arrived in Agadez and I had to sleep in the bus station because the next car going to Tripoli was leaving two days later. I was alone with one bag.

We crossed the desert during summer time. I remember the sun was my skin. The driver had to hide us because the police was patrolling. It was very scary. 

We first arrived at Saba and there I managed to buy a SIM card and call my husband. We then continue to Tripoli with another driver. Both drivers asked for sex. One of them asked me to touch his penis. They saw my ring but they did not care. They said it was a fake one. Thanks god, none of the two drivers abused me. I told the other passengers and stayed with them. They protected me. The minute I was alone, they would have raped me.

I bought pads and wore them even if I did not have my menstruations. I thought this would dissuade them. I even showed it once so that they would leave me alone. But someone said they would took me from the back. My husband knew that people will try to sleep with me and told me to buy condoms for the journey. 

There was one other woman with me and we stayed together. Thanks god, nothing happened to us. We always stayed at the back of the vehicle. It was the least comfortable place but the safer one, far away from the drivers. In total, it took me three weeks between Ghana to Tripoli.

Also my husband started to work in construction, and he wasn’t paid either

I then stayed 11 months in Libya. When I arrived, I called my ‘connection man’. We were 6-7 people having the same contact. He came with his car and took us to the connection house. I was sleeping with many people - we did not have any privacy. When I ran out of money, I called my husband. I was lucky because he managed to transfer me what I needed. Without this money, I could not eat. One day I had to fight for a piece of bread and I even broke my hand. 

My first attempt was on 11 October 2021. We stayed for two days at sea and the Libyan coastguards caught us. We were sent to prison. They took my phone and I could not tell my husband where I was. Luckily, he managed to get in touch with my connection man who informed him I was in prison. I spent our first anniversary there alone, without being able to contact him. The only way to leave this place was to give money again. My husband knew and managed to make another money transfer. 

I then moved to another connection house and I was there for Christmas. This place was better than the first one and our connection man was a Libyan soldier. In April, we tried to cross the sea for the second time. Two people died in our boat because of the fuel and we saw another one in distress with only two people alive. We took them with us and we called the Libyans to rescue us. I gave money again to avoid going to prison and I went back to the connection house I had just left. 

The third time was on 7 July. I was told at the last minute that I had to leave. They were all set up and just waiting for me. As soon as I arrived, we took off. We left the coast at 10.30 am and we spent 15 hours before being rescued. 

I fell asleep and I woke up with people around me saying Lampedusa. They got very excited when they saw the Geo Barents. I could not see anything from far but I saw the two small boats approaching. They gave us life jackets. I was so happy. My husband told me three weeks ago that he had a dream. He told me I would be rescued by the Geo Barents and here I am. 

I have not been able to call him but I know he checks the location of the boat everyday. Sometimes I was fed up and I wanted to give up. I did not know about the prison, about anything. He was encouraging me to join him and he was telling me ‘nothing will happen to you, come’. I prayed at least 100 hours and was asking God ‘don’t let me die’.”