“When I left Gambia, due to the former political situation in my country, it was a challenge to find work. I couldn’t afford to continue my studies either so I decided to go to Europe, but I was unfortunate on my way there. I had been encouraged by my friends because they had all made it to Europe, but it was never my desire. By the time I reached Agadez, I had already started losing all hope.
After almost 2 months on the road to Libya, I proceeded to Tripoli to take the boat to cross to Europe. At about 10 pm, our boat broke down. The rescue boat came and took us back to shore and then to prison in Griana. We were over 100 people there. They would give us one pot of milk and one piece of bread every day at midnight. We wouldn’t eat again for the next 24 hours. Every couple of days someone new would die. I spent almost 3 months there until they decided to relocate some of the people to another prison in Sabha. I spent another 4 months there until my family paid the ransom.
After I got out, I worked for the next 4 months until I saved enough to go to Tripoli again. That was my second chance to go to Europe. We spent almost a month in the connection house in Tripoli until the weather was stable enough for us to cross. On our way, the oil mixed with the water so the engine stopped. We were stranded at sea for the next four days. Some fishermen captured us and took us back to prison where I spent another 4 months.
They made us call our families to ask for money in exchange for our release. My parents told me whenever they released me to go back to Gambia. Some of my friends didn’t even have a contact number for their families. They thought that they would only get in touch with their families once they reached Europe. For them it was impossible to get released because they had no one that could pay for them. You don’t pay, you don’t get out.
Finding food was a daily struggle. In order to find food, you need money, and in order to have money, you need to work. However, working is a risky business. On your way to work, they can rob you or even worse, kill you. On my way back to the ghetto with my friend, we were attacked. They shot him dead. I took him back to the ghetto and someone managed to take his body to a hospital. His body laid there for a week before they decided to bury him. After I attended his funeral with his younger brother, I called his parents to let them know what had happened, and they begged us to go back.
The things I have seen in Libya are a valuable life lesson for me. People are different - some people lose their minds over the things they witness in Libya. I don’t want my family nor my country to lose me. Maybe I can become someone once I’m back, help my country develop, but I need to be alive in order for that to happen. My fellow brothers need to know that this way is the sacrifice way. You don’t know how you will die, but chances are, it will happen. Stay in our country and feed on what we have.”
Copyright © 2017.International Organization for Migration Niger.