Photo: IOM /F.Giordani
Bitongo is an artist whose dream was to live in Europe. When he left the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he was determined and full of hope.
“I heard so many stories about Europe, friends who made it and now have a decent life that I wanted a new life in El Dorado too. So I left my country. I knew the journey would not be easy but I was ready to handle it no matter what.
“In 2011, I went to Mauritania on a regular visa hoping to make it to Europe ultimately. It is then that my new life started to take shape. I had the chance to meet a local painter and I finally discovered my talent and myself.”
In 2013, after a first successful exhibition, Bitongo decided to try to immigrate to Morocco.
“I bought a flight ticket to Casablanca, without any visa. As soon as I landed, I was sent back to Mauritania.
“After five failed attempts, tired of all the negativity and lies, I decided to start a new life in Mauritania. As I was talented, my friend welcomed me again in his atelier and helped me find a job as an art teacher in a local school.
“In Africa, there are many young people who have talent, but we live in countries where there is no possibility to develop a dream, an idea. So we are forced to migrate to developed countries to have a chance to become successful.
“I was so obsessed with going to Europe that I was wasting my youth and my creativity for nothing. With all I went through, I realized that my talent would take me everywhere. ‘Young people! Don't risk your life trying to reach Europe irregularly. Build up your life through your talent.’”