photo credit: IOM/Monica Chiriac
“Two years ago, my husband got very sick while in Libya. They rushed him back to Nigeria, but he didn’t make it back in time. Two weeks later, I lost my three-year-old son as well. He was very sick and I couldn’t properly take care of him. I have three other kids to take care of now. I feel hopeless at times, but I don’t want to have to use my body to feed them. I need to stay strong and fight.
A friend in Libya called me to offer me a job so I sold everything I had, including my shop, so I could make it to Libya. I only made it to Dirkou where the driver abandoned us. We were there for five days without any food or water. I didn’t know what to do. He left with all of our things, and we kept hoping he was going to come back; he never did.
After my son and husband died, I got an ulcer. After the fifth day in the desert, I started vomiting blood. I was lying down for the whole time hoping for a miracle. I was thinking about my children; how I needed to stay strong for them. A Nigerian boy who worked in Dirkou saw me and advised me to go to IOM. He pulled over a moto, but there was no room for me. He told the driver to come back to get us, and he did.
They rushed me to IOM’s centre in Dirkou, and then to the hospital where they gave me treatment for my ulcer. I could barely walk by the time we reached the centre. I’m so grateful I’m still alive. I sometimes wonder what would have happened to me if I hadn’t met the Nigerian boy.
A lot of people stayed in the desert. They didn’t want any help as they still had money left. They were trying to reach Libya, and even after five days straight in the desert, they were still convinced the driver was going to come back. They are probably still there. I told them I was going back to my home country. There are some things that money can’t buy.”