“There are migrants who escape war, and there are migrants who escape poverty. I am one of those, I saw poverty and I am fighting against it.” This is how Shadrach explains why he left Ghana at the age of 27 to undertake the long journey that brought him to Mauritania.
“I do not want to survive, I want to live. That is why I left. I am a cobbler, I just need my needles and a bit more stuff and then I can do my work wherever I want.”
Shadrach first left Accra in 2001. He did not have a specific destination; he just wanted to find a place where to work and earn money to invest back in his country. “I have to confess that I thought about reaching North Africa and then maybe Europe, but I never thought of crossing by boat; it is not worth it.”
For six years, he moved around West Africa and finally settled in Mauritania in 2007.
“Every time you enter a new country you don't know anybody, you have to find a place to sleep, a job, understand where things are and how they work. It is a big challenge. But if you have the chance to make a friend along the way, then everything becomes easier.”
In 2005, Shadrach met Aziz, a Ghanaian hairdresser. “We shared the same ideas and the same wish for the future, so we decided to continue together.” At the beginning of 2007, with enough money saved, they left for Saint Louis and from there, they crossed into Mauritania.
Upon arrival Shadrach started to work as a garbage collector, but after a little while a friend offered him the possibility to work with him as a cobbler. They worked together for six months, until Shadrach found a job as housekeeper.
“I was really lucky. In Mauritania it is hard for foreigners to find a job. Each nationality has a special activity. Typically, Ghanaians and Nigerians are hairdressers, Malians are housekeepers, Senegalese wash cars and so on. So for me to find such a job was very fortunate. I got it thanks to a friend of mine who decided to return to Ghana and asked me if I wanted to replace him.”
This work has allowed me to put some money aside over the last eight years. I have been fighting for this capital for so many years in my life, now I finally have it. Whatever you do, it’s a matter of sacrifice. Your life depends on you, on how hard you work. If you make efforts at some point you get your reward.”
Photo credit: IOM/F.GIORDANI