Photo Credit: Monica Chiriac/IOM
“After I graduated, I saw my friends coming back from Europe and buying all sorts of things so I thought I could succeed as well. However, I never wanted to stay in Europe; I just wanted to go, earn enough money for my family and come back to my country. However, once I arrived in Algeria, I started studying and quickly realized that with an education, I didn’t need to go to Europe anymore so I started looking for jobs.
Once I found a decent job in Algeria, I called my wife in Côte d'Ivoire and asked her to join me. She opened a small boutique where she sold different Ivorian products that African women couldn’t find in Algeria. The shop was doing well, and so was my job, so we were very happy when she got pregnant.
After giving birth earlier this year, she decided to stay home to take care of the baby while I worked. I tried to be with her as much as I could, but my workplace was 150 km away. One day while I was at work, my friend called me to say the Algerian authorities had come to my house. They had broken down the door and taken my wife and baby away.
I went to look for them and found them in a refoulement centre. It was cold and there were no blankets. They hadn’t let my wife take any belongings with her when they brought them there. We had nothing with us, only baby Adams. Two days later, they took us to Tamanrasset on a truck. It was the first time I saw the desert.
I will never forget the sight of one of the people who fell off the truck and hit his head on the way to Tamanrasset. He died right then and there. One night when we were close to the border with Niger, in the middle of the desert, at 11 pm, they unloaded 100 people. They started shooting around to scare us into walking, and so we walked for about 20 km until we reached Assamaka. We slept under the shed until the IOM truck arrived and took us to the centre in Arlit.
From there, we went to the centre in Agadez where I was chosen as the Ivorian representative. After all that we experienced, I am happy to welcome my brothers at the centre and help them get around."