27 years old, Burkina Faso

23 May 2023

(rescued by MSF on 23 April 2022) 

Boy 7 years old
Boy 2 years old
Girl 1 year old

“I fled the conflict in Burkina Faso when I was 17. I found refuge in Benin where I met my husband who is from there. We had our first two children there but our financial situation was really difficult. We decided to flee to Libya where we had heard that we could find work. On our way to Libya, when we were crossing the Sahara with a group of people, the driver stopped on the way and came up to me asking to have sex with him. I was already pregnant. I told him I am a married woman and I showed him my husband and children. He started beating me and my husband before the eyes of our children. Then he took another woman aside. When we arrived in Libya, we were taken to Sabaa and held in a house. We were not allowed to leave the house but at some point the smuggler disappeared and stopped picking up our calls. At some point another man came and took us to Tripoli and there I started working as a maid to a house of a Libyan family. They often did not pay me. 

Also my husband started to work in construction, and he wasn’t paid either. Then we tried to cross to Europe. In the middle of the sea we were stopped by the Libyan coast guards. I was feeling very sick already. They forced us back to Libya. When I arrived (back to Libya) I was vomiting blood and I was taken to the hospital. At the same time my husband got arrested and taken into a detention centre. There, he was beaten up. The guards were calling me when they were beating him. They wanted 8000 Libyan dinar in order to release him but we had already run out of money and on the top of it I was hospitalized which would cost even more money. After I left the hospital I started working again in order to collect the money needed for his release. 

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

During the time I was in the hospital and my husband in the detention centre, the children were taken care of by a friend of ours, Ayi*, who also traveled from Benin to Libya. Later we tried to find ways to make some money again because we did not have money to pay the rent in the place we were staying. So we decided to move out. We then found a small cabin in a field and decided to stay there. The time passed and I was about to deliver. We had no option but to deliver inside the small cabin as we didn’t have money to go to a hospital. I was trying not to make any noise while delivering because I knew they would kick us out. So I put a piece of cloth to my mouth. My husband helped me to deliver but he did not even know how to cut the umbilical cord. I delivered a girl. 

Few days later someone passed by and told us that he heard me screaming and chased us out of the cabin. So I took my three children, used all the money we had and took a taxi to Tripoli. Unfortunately, the money was not enough for all of us so my husband was left behind. After that, we decided to cross the sea again. We suffered too much already in Libya. My children have never been to school despite the fact that my eldest son is already 7 years old. So there was no other option but to cross. 

We already suffer too much and the only thing I want is to have a bed for my children, clean clothes and good food. This is when I will feel good and proud of myself again. We supported each other so much during the journey and he never let me down. So now my biggest hope is that my husband will cross the sea alive.”