IOM The Gambia
“I am currently training six youths. I hope the knowledge they gain will help them be productive individuals.”
had always dreamt of going abroad in the hope of bettering my future. My plan was to get some welding materials when I travel, develop myself and come back to my country. I wanted to be anywhere in Europe, but Belgium had always been my first choice. Finally, on 4 December 2015, I left The Gambia with five of my friends, but we lost contact when we got Libya. I heard from another friend that they made it to Italy, but I am yet to hear from any of them. Our journey was a long one— from Banjul, to Mali, to Burkina Faso and to Niamey, Niger. We spent five days in the dessert before finally reaching Libya.
Libya was difficult. We were indoors for four months without being able to go out, as we feared the war. I decided this was not sustainable and went out to find a job. I was in Libya for way longer than expected—a year and three months— because, every time I wanted to leave, my boss successfully pleaded with me to stay.
I stayed in Libya harnessing my skills in welding, but living in Europe, not Libya, was the reason I left my country. I finally decided to try my luck at sea. Unfortunately, when the boat was about to leave, they left me and two others on shore because the boat was already full, they claimed. As a result, we were captured and taken to prison. IOM visited us one day and informed us that they could assist us to return to our countries. I decided I was ready to come back home, since crossing to Italy seemed very difficult and risky.
When I came back home, my dad got sick. There was a lot of talking—everyone was wondering if I brought a disease with me from abroad. Thankfully, I received my reintegration support shortly after I came back and opened my own welding shop. My customer base varies because of the quality and efficiency of services that I deliver. People from different places will come for my service. We all know how business can sometimes be dull, but my plan is to expand this business when I have the required materials.