photo credit: iom/monica chiriac
“I have always considered myself an orphan. My aunt had a miscarriage when she was younger and she couldn’t ever get pregnant again after that. By tradition, you are supposed to give a child to women who can’t bear any children. I was my mother’s first born. I’m happy that my aunt raised me in Gabon.
When I was 13, I moved back to Cameroon. That is when I met my parents and siblings for the first time. I didn’t grow up with my family so I was always the one having to make compromises.
Life was not easy. My father was killed by his own brothers and my mom had decided to go to Europe with a passport she had paid for. Once at the airport she was told her papers were fake and she had a heart attack.
At some point, I wanted to go somewhere where I could feel safe and happy and find some peace. My dream was to become an interior designer. I wanted to find a good school to learn this craft, and then go back, open my own business and eventually open an orphanage.
So I decided to go to Italy but earn money in Algeria first. But there was no work for foreign women there except maybe prostitution. You either live in a brothel or marry someone for a limited period of time. I could not do this for money – never. So I decided to go back.
The way back through the desert was horrible: there were dead people, women being raped. At some point, the smugglers divided us in two groups. If they liked your face, they told you to stay. I was so scared; I didn’t know where I was.
I am lucky and grateful that nobody hurt me. I never saw the others again. People need to know what this route is like; they need to know the truth.”