“I’m from Jarra, a rural space within the Decrease River Area of The Gambia, in the course of the nation. I moved to the capital, Banjul, once I was 15, to reside with my brother and go to highschool. I didn’t graduate, although, as a result of we couldn’t afford the charges.
Round 5 years in the past, once I was about 20, my buddies inspired me to depart The Gambia. This isn’t a rich nation, and we heard that folks had left, and have become profitable in Europe, sending a refund to their households.
I needed to go to Italy, as a result of I believed that this was the best 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.
Step one was neighbouring Senegal, and from there we bought 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 very popular and uncomfortable. We drove for 3 days, sleeping within the desert. At evening, 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’
Typically the drivers had been good individuals, however others had been very harsh, and they might beat us. Once we bought into Libya, we had been crushed, and all of our cash was taken from us. Fortunately, 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 following stage of the journey was to Sabhā, in central Libya. As a result of I had no cash, I needed to keep in Sabhā for 4 months, discovering work to pay for my fare to Tripoli.
While you journey from Sabhā to Tripoli, you must be smuggled in. In case you are seen, individuals would possibly kill you, so I needed to disguise in a darkish room with no lights for 3 days. This was in the course of the civil conflict, and there was a variety of hazard.
‘They shot the boat’
I needed to wait over a 12 months in Tripoli earlier than I might get to the coast and take a ship for Italy. Considered one of my brothers discovered the cash for me to get a spot on the boat. Earlier than we set off, there was some taking pictures and we quickly realized that our boat was taking over 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 choice 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.
Once we arrived on shore, we had been taken to a detention centre. We had been crushed by troopers, who advised us to offer them cash, however I had nothing left. I needed to keep there for 2 months in these harsh, soiled circumstances. Our telephones had been taken from us so we couldn’t contact our households; a lot of them although that we had been useless.
Beginning once more from zero
Ultimately, individuals from the UN got here to the centre. They gave us garments and a few meals and supplied us a voluntary flight again to The Gambia.
I used to be very unhappy: I had misplaced the whole lot and must begin once more from zero. I didn’t need to return residence, however I had no alternative.
After I arrived in The Gambia, the UN migration company (IOM) supplied to assist me to start out a enterprise. They requested me what I needed to do and, due to my expertise working in building, I advised 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 baggage 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, they usually supplied me abilities coaching. This was very helpful, and I used to be capable of get a certificates and return to working with aluminium. I bought a job working in a pal’s store in Banjul, which sells aluminium window frames.
Sooner or later, as soon as I can increase the cash, I plan to open my very own store. I’m married now and I’ve two youngsters. I need to succeed right here now, and I wouldn’t attempt to retry that journey to Europe. It’s too dangerous. If you happen to don’t succeed, you lose the whole lot.”