32 years old, Senegal

“When I left my country, I was not even aware about how high the risk was. I felt a lot of pressure when I was in Senegal. Everyone was telling me that I have to do more for my family; that I have to go to Europe to work and support my family. I was not sure at the beginning that I wanted to do that but the pressure I was getting from my peers convinced me to go. I passed from many countries. I passed from Ivory Coast, Guinea, Ghana, Benin and Niger and tried my luck there but soon I ran out of money. In all these countries, I never felt welcome. There were so many restrictions for foreigners. For example, if you want to get a working permit in Guinea you have to pay about 1 million CFA (1,500 euros) then if you want to go to other countries, they smuggle you but you also have the risk of getting deported. 

In my opinion, borders should not exist. All these border restrictions and laws are actually putting people’s lives in risk, especially black people. If you are white, it is not difficult to go to Africa but it is difficult for an African to go outside of Africa and we have to put our lives at risk in order to do so.

When I made it to Libya in 2016, I stayed a few days in a detention centre. Back then, I had saved some money so I managed to go out quickly. I was staying in a building with other people and the police raided the place, attacked us and took us to another detention centre. Then, they told us they would deport us and send us back to the first one. I was afraid that I would die. Many people died in this place, which is like a prison. I had no money and they were beating me all the time. I was so weak. I spent five months with almost no food, drinking water from the toilet and getting beaten up all the time. At some point, they understood that there was no way for me to find money to pay them so they let me out after they beat me up severely.

I wanted to fight for the next generation. If my father fights for us I should fight for my children too.

Then, I went to Tripoli and started to work again so I could collect some money. There was no way I would call back home and ask for money from my family. I was the one meant to help them, not the opposite. I have young brothers who need support from my family and I am already 32 years old. 

In this journey, some can fly, some can run, some can walk and some can crawl in order to achieve their goal. The most important thing is not to give up. Unfortunately, I could not ‘fly’ and I had to spend years working before I was able to collect the amount I needed in order to cross the sea. There were times that I was thinking of giving up but then I could not go back, I could not just fail. 

I wanted to fight for the next generation. If my father fights for us I should fight for my children too. I do not want the next generation to pass through what I passed in my childhood. When I have kids, I want them to have a good education and not to suffer. My father abandoned me when I was three years old. My mother married another man and this man treated us like his children. I want to fight for my future, I want to have a family and be a good dad, not like my (biological) dad. My step-father taught us love and kindness. His teachings and his advice are what I love the most in life. I wanted to go to Europe and succeed in my life so he could be proud of me and give him back for all the love he showed to us. Unfortunately, he died last year. It hurts me a lot that I did not have the time to do things for him. Whenever I think about him, I cry. He passed away around these days last year.

Now, what I want is to have papers and be able to work so I can recover all these years I lost in Libya. I do not want to look down for anyone again, I want to have my life back. This journey made me very strong and helped me understand who loves me, who cares about me and who’s not.  

I do not have any hate for anyone. I have no hate even for those who treated me brutally and took my belongings. I am strong and fearless now and I know that I can work and get everything back. I do not want to depend on anyone else.”