“I saw a lot my friends who had been to Europe come back to Senegal with money and build houses for themselves. A lot of my friends in France, Spain, and Italy, left without any papers and got them once they were there, so I thought I could be one of them.
I left Senegal with my younger brother last year to try to go to Italy. I arrived in Libya and decided to stay there for a while because I already had a lot of friends there. I worked in a small boutique for a while because I needed money for the boat to Italy, but I could never save enough to pay for the boat.
My brother died in Libya. He was 16 years old. They attacked him in broad daylight in the city centre. They asked him for money, but he didn’t have any. When they had caught me before, I gave them everything I had. But he didn’t have any money so they shot him. I was close by and I recognized the gunshot sound. I ran to see what had happened and saw he was dead.
I called my family and told them the news, and they told me to go back home so I did everything I could to make it back. I met an old man at the border with Niger, and told him I wanted to go back home so he told me about IOM. I am really grateful I met him.
There are so many people in prison in Libya that can’t get out because they have no money. You have no money, you don’t get out. Or you die. It’s simple. We have one friend that died at sea. When we saw how he died, my friends and I decided it wasn’t worth it. The route is too difficult nowadays. A lot of people die on the road. Maybe you make it, maybe you die at sea. This is how it is.
When I left Senegal, I sold all of my dad’s sheep, promising I would replace them once I get to Italy. But I never made it to Italy. If I find work in Senegal, I will stay there, but if I don’t, I might try my luck once more.”
photo credit: IOm/monica chiriac