IOM The Gambia
“I used to depend on my salary before I left The Gambia, but now I have my own sales.”
When I left The Gambia on 25 August 2016, it was because I believed there were more opportunities in Europe. I dreamt of living in Germany. My family was aware of my plans, and I left with three friends. I went with GMD 26,000 (approximately USD 520) but it ran out in Burkina Faso. My family supported me with a further GMD 40,000 (approximately USD 8,000) to get to Tripoli, Libya.
The journey was a long and hard one. We spent two days in Mali, a month in Niger and six days in the desert. At first, we were 27, but we lost five people on the journey. On our first attempt to cross to Italy, five of my friends died at sea. I was devastated and scared. We were later captured and imprisoned by the Libyan Coast Guard, and my family spent up to GMD 30,000 (approximately USD 600) for my release. I didn’t give up and decided to try again for the second time. This time, we were caught by bandits and held hostage in a house until my family sent another GMD 15,000 (approximately USD 300).
That’s when I gave up and started thinking about home. My family was spending so much on me, living conditions were terrible and people were going missing or killed on a daily basis. I moved back to the capital and got a job as a mason for four months. During this time, I heard about IOM, so I visited its office and was offered assistance to return home.
I arrived in The Gambia in November 2018. When I came back, things were a little bit better. However, I felt bad that I didn’t succeed in reaching Europe because of the things people were saying. Many in my neighbourhood said that I am failed child, but now, I am proving so many people wrong. I received my reintegration assistance through investing in my brother’s beverage shop. We supply drinks to local shops, mini-markets and big stores. We have an already existing customer base, and I wake up each day to supply the shop from Monday to Saturday.