Photo credit: IOM/Shaebi Ahmed
“I came to Libya in 2011 when I was 22, looking for a decent job. I didn’t want to steal or join any bad business, so I left Niger to meet a friend in Libya who has been here for a long time. He said he could help me find a job, so I went to Tripoli directly. I spent two days checking out the city and walking by the Corniche, looking at the sea for the first time in my. Even now, I still find it beautiful.
I started working with a construction and tools company. But only a few days later, we heard that a revolution was in the making. And then we started to notice the uprising in the streets. No one was sure about what’s going on, but we were asked to stay home. Then things started to calm down and gun shots were no longer heard. We went back to the company, but sales dropped to zero for a few weeks and lots of workers started to go home. I, myself, wanted a chance of a better life for me and my wife, who [was] still in Niamey. We have been married since 2008. So, I stayed. My wife called me two months after my arrival in Tripoli and told me she was pregnant.
The work flow slowly started to improve but the lack of workers affected us. Sometimes, I would work alone until 2 a.m. and go back to the company by 10:30 a.m. It was hard and I was tired, but all pain was forgotten when I got my paycheck at the end of the month. And then all that pain would be happiness.
I knew it was risky back then to walk home late at night, but nothing happened so I kept going home late. One night a car stopped, and some guys came out of it. They stopped me, asking for my papers. I didn’t have my passport then, so they started asking me questions about where I'm from and what I was doing here. They took my phone and my money and let me go. The next day when went to work, we tried to report it. But back then under the circumstances, nothing could be done. Days passed, the revolution ended, and things got much better. Everything was becoming normal. I was saving money and would send some to my wife and our baby.
In 2014, a big armed conflict took place in Tripoli and it no longer felt safe. So, I decided to go back home. It was great to see my wife and my daughter as she was almost three by then. I bought a piece of land close to my father's and built a small new house for my wife and child. A year passed, and I couldn’t find a good job. So, I moved back to Tripoli and started working in the same field again.
What I do takes physical effort, because I have to load the trucks with materials and tools. That’s why I go to work early, so I can help the customers with what they need. Then I put things in order. Since I’m short, I’m also fast – this is why people at the company call me “Derya” (“shorty” in a Libyan Arabic dialect). In 2016, I got married again in Libya to my second wife. She came from Niger and I waited for her at the airport. I’m happy right now, as I have a good job and I’m working on my savings. I’m not sure when I will go back to Niger, but when I do, I’m planning to have more than one business. I want to have a taxi, a big truck, a welding workshop and I want to build other buildings on my land and rent them.”