Photo: Eric Djimtoloum
A NEW LIFE IN CHAD
After arriving to Chad in January 2014, following the crisis in the Central African Republic, Malik, of Muslim obedience has just obtained a degree in management sciences at the private Emi-Koussi University in N’Djamena. For him, after obtaining the BAC in 2013, he did not expect to leave his country in such tragic circumstances: the war. After militias invaded his neighborhood, his house being destroyed and feeling complete desolation, he knew he had to save his life at any cost, prompting him to flee.
“Multiple diplomatic representations began to repatriate their nationals, I went to the embassies of other nationalities, but they rejected me. I spent two days at the airport and met people who spent weeks there because it was impossible to backtrack. The day I showed up in front of the area where Chadians registered, by a miracle the interviewer observed me for a few minutes and told the others who were with him to let me go along with the other youth since there were a lot of people there. This is how I began my journey to N’Djamena, Chad. Yet there were several questions bothering me, what would I do once there? Where would I sleep and eat?
Once we arrived in N’Djamena, we were taken to a social center where I spent three months. The number of people staying there was plethoric and one day they told us we had to leave and would be taken to the Gaoui refugee camp (northeast of N’Djamena). The conditions there were difficult, ten of us sleeping under a small tent, and theft occurring often. Unable to cope with this situation, seven of my friends and I left the camp to return to the social center that had initially welcomed us, where we met a UNHCR team that registered refugees. Here again we faced another test, having to either speak the SANGO language (official language of the Central African Republic) or present papers that proved we were really Central Africans.
After registration, I was taken to another social center and then to a refugee camp in Goré, in the South of Chad. Even though the atmosphere was cordial, I missed my family incredibly and learned my mother was murdered by militias, and my sister and cousin were missing, this was in 2015. Although I felt discouraged, I could not give up because I had to rebuild my life.
After some time, some individuals arrived at the camp to inform us of the DAFI scholarship program for students. Previously, in Bangui I was working on my BAC and had the papers with me which I used to apply for the scholarship. There were only six places offered for more than 80 students at various levels. After several tests, I successfully passed, and enrolled at the University of Moundou with other friends in the department of Accounting and Finance. It was not easy, we were behind academically and needed to catch up with classes to prepare for exams. Despite this difficulty and the strikes that arose, I received my license in Accounting and Finance.
I lived with a friend, with whom I built a very strong friendship. Unfortunately, he eventually died of illness after he decided to return to his parents at the camp in Goré for the end of year celebrations. It was a blow for me, I was demoralized. My journey continued for 4 more years, in which during this time many of us had to abandon the courses.
I really needed to finish my studies and as I still benefited from this scholarship for an academic year, I enrolled at Emi-Koussi University in N’Djamena through the same organization. I chose to pursue a degree in management sciences. My scholarship contract has just finished and although I applied to several companies and organizations for internships, nothing is on the horizon.
The thing that really touched me was the generosity of the Chadians; in Africa, we are united and sociable. In all the centers and camps I passed through, kind-hearted people would bring us food, and even sometimes at the market traders who realized that we were refugees would give us items for free.
Chad is my destiny; the events that took place in the Central African Republic caused many young people to flee to Europe, as they thought there they could do better (I cannot judge them), but I believe in Africa. It is enough that there is stability and peace as well as the creation of job opportunities to limit the drain of skills, from the able arms of Africa to Europe. I only hope to find a small job to support myself and if possible contribute my stone to the construction of Chad. I do not think I’m going back to Central Africa because my own rejected me. Militias would shout in the neighborhoods “go home” referring to us, the Muslims. For me it is a grace to live in Chad and I will always be indebted to this country.
This story is part of the "Beyond the Headlines: an Overview of Migration in Chad" publication.