“I have four younger brothers and sisters, and a very sick mother. As the oldest, I feel it’s my responsibility to provide for my siblings. When a friend invited me to go to Libya, I thought I could try my luck as a fashion designer. This is what I studied back in Nigeria, but I never had money for a sewing machine.
On our way there, I started blaming myself for choosing this road. I was told before I left that I was going to travel by plane. When we finally reached Agadez, I called my friend and told her that the road was terrible and that I couldn’t do it anymore. She told me everything was going to be fine. When I saw that we were about to travel like goats, I finally understood that this how the whole journey was going to be. I called my mum and told her everything was fine; I didn’t want to scare her.
When we reached the desert, the driver dropped all forty of us there. We spent more than two weeks in the desert. We had nothing but milk. When they gave us water, it was petrol water; we had no choice but to drink it. People started getting very sick because of it. The driver finally came back and told us to get ready, but we had nothing to eat or drink and we were being told that there was still a week to go. We started our days with the sun on top of our heads and that’s how we ended them. It was freezing cold at night and we had no blankets, nothing.
One day, the driver dropped us off in another part of the desert and asked us for more money. I asked him how he expected us to have any money after two weeks in the middle of nowhere. He said he wouldn’t take us unless we found the money. We started begging, telling him we wouldn’t survive if he left us there. He finally took us up to the Libyan border. That’s when soldiers started shooting at the car; he told us to get out, and drove off with everything we had left.
They don’t care that you are a human being. They just abandon you there.
The day the driver came to pick us up, I saw that I had been sleeping on a skeleton. It scared me to death. How could I had been sleeping on another human being?! Many of us died in the desert. You can’t survive with any food or water. I have never seen anything like it: so many corpses in the desert, skeletons, fresh corpses. I am so grateful that I don’t count myself among the dead. This road wasn’t good for me, and it’s not good for anyone.”
photo credit: IOM/Monica Chiriac