“I left Mauritania almost a year ago to go to Europe. What pushed me was the desire to study and help out my parents. I want them to be happy. It makes me sad when I think about what I left behind. I spent almost two months in prison in Libya. They beat us, tortured us, shot at people. I had no contact with my family so they all thought I was dead. It was really hard on all of us.
An Arab helped me and some other people to get out of prison. After two weeks of working for him, he set us free. He then offered me paid work so I stayed with him. During my fourth month there, his sons attacked me in the middle of the night. They told me to give them all my money and then chased me out. I didn’t even have time to get my things.
I was badly hurt. I went to a Nigerien next door to ask for help. He told me that I could stay with him. The next day he brought me traditional medicine. In Libya, if you are attacked like that, you don’t go to the doctor’s. I stayed with him for 20 days until I recovered. He fed me, took care of me – he did everything for me.
After that, my brother sent me money so I started my trip back home. When you don’t know where to go, it’s better to go back where you came from. That’s not to say that if I had the money, I wouldn’t try again to go to Europe. There’s this saying: if you don’t have a mother to breastfeed you, you go to your grandmother. It’s hard, but if you have no other choice, you have to do it.
In Libya, everything you earn, you end up spending on bail, and the journey to Europe is very difficult. An hour’s drive can even take a day in certain places. However, the things I’ve endured are a life lesson to me. You don’t truly know the value of your country until you’ve gone through something like this. It’s not about the money anymore, it’s about the experience – that’s what makes the difference.
Some brothers made some money, some didn’t, some were left behind in the Sahara, while others drowned. On my way back, I saw people that had done 10 days in the Sahara with barely any food or water. There were a few dead among them. It was a sad thing to see. I left Mauritania for Europe, but I wasn’t prepared for what I saw on the road.
At the end of the day, we are responsible for everything that happens to us. They told me not to go, but I went anyway. Man’s biggest problem is man himself.”