Photo credit: Marianna Bertelle
"I was born and grew up in Nigeria but I left when I was 18 years old to live with my father’s family in The Gambia. There, I met a nice guy whom I fell in love with, Lamin, and soon after we got married.
We dreamt of living together but we could not find good jobs. One day a friend of Lamin's told him about some job opportunities in Italy. Lamin left but I didn’t hear from him for a long time until one day he contacted me from Libya. He had tried to cross the sea to get to Italy but didn’t succeed and went back to Libya. I missed him so I decided to join him there to be with him.
The journey through the desert was horrible, I saw people die along the way and I was afraid I wouldn’t make it through but, thanks to God, I managed to reach Libya. I was happy because I was reunited with my husband but life there was not as I expected. We were constantly scared of going out as we were seeing terrible things every day. One night we managed to get on a boat to cross the sea but we did not get very far on the high sea because the Libyan coast guards found us. They took us back to Libya and they threw us in jail. They separated me from my husband. We slept on the floor with almost no food.
I was thinking about our life back in The Gambia, where, even if we did not have much we were happy and we could live freely. After a month in prison, I couldn’t bear it anymore. When IOM staff visited the prison, they provided us with food and blankets and they told us about the possibility of going back to The Gambia and about the reintegration programmes.
I managed to get in touch with Lamin and we both agreed we wanted to go back home, so we voluntarily signed up for the return flight and came back. I am so happy to be back and I think we can have a good life here. With the help of IOM, Lamin could start a small business and I hope I can go back to school to become a nurse, like my mum."