IOM The Gambia
“I am happy to reunite with my family, and I look forward to expanding my bicycle business.”
For two years, I was in Congo (Republic of the) doing business. I had a grocery shop there, but I decided to come back home because business was slow. When I returned, I went back to my hometown of Basse and engaged in farming activities. I was desperate. I wanted to get to Europe. Three months later, I decided to embark on the backway journey.
I left in December 2016 and got to Libya in January 2017. I started having financial challenges in Agadez, Niger, so my family supported me. My brother had to send close to GMD 25,000 (approximately USD 500) for me to reach Libya.
My main goal was to get to Italy. I tried to cross the Mediterranean Sea on five occasions, but all attempts proved futile. In one of our attempts to cross, our boat had a problem, which resulted in many losing their lives. I will never forget that day. We spent the entire night at sea but luckily got rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard.
Throughout my stay in Libya, I was imprisoned twice. Each time I went to jail, I had to pay a huge amount of money. For two months, I was not able to talk to my family. They thought I was dead. When the opportunity came to return home, I did not hesitate. The situation in Libya is unexplainable—all you face is imprisonment and forced labour.
I returned to The Gambia in February 2018 with the help of IOM. Through the reintegration assistance I received, I started selling bicycles. I got into the bicycle business because I have friends who are in it and are making a living out of it. It is indeed a lucrative one. They guided and supported me from the start, and now I am established. I have customers that usually buy in large quantities and take it to rural areas. When business is booming, I sell about five bikes per day. I wish to expand my business and hope that other partners would come on board to help me achieve my dreams.