“The war has completely changed my life. I studied eleven years at the School of Dance and Cultural Exchange in Ivory Coast. I graduated with merits and began working in a big dance company. We toured in so many countries.I had a good life. But when the second Ivorian civil war began, we had no choice but to leave.
People do not decide to become a refugee. It’s the context that brings you there. Life in a camp is not an easy life. There are illnesses, prostitution, kids cannot go to school and it’s hard to find a job.
Then I heard that the Mauritanian currency, the ouguiya, is much stronger than the CFA. I wanted to find a job and earn some money to start building up my life again, so I left the refugee camp in Ghana, without really knowing what to expect.
I could not afford a plane ticket, so I travelled to Mauritania by car but I liked it. I saw so many beautiful landscapes.”
What surprised me the most the day I arrived was the cold. I was expecting desert, camels and a strong sun, instead I was shivering as if I was in Paris. Fortunately in Nouakchott there is an Ivorian community, so they gave me some warm clothes and some blankets for the night.
I was so surprised when I saw all the big buildings here, the big cars and people living in an easy way. This country is so different from Ivory Coast. My country is secular while Mauritania is Muslim, so many things are forbidden, there are no clubs, no bars, but … I like it. Each country has its culture and rules, I like the quietness here, the silence.
I met Mr Babi, the director of the CIMAN institute, a music conservatory and he welcomed me as a father. He told me I could collaborate with them and start giving dance classes.
I am a migrant now. It is not going to be easy, but I am a strong woman. My children have to go back to school, we need a new house and a new life. What I would like is to ask our political leaders to think of the poor, to stop useless conflicts. Destroying takes less than a minute but rebuilding takes an entire lifetime.”