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Photo credit: IOM/Shaebi Ahmed

3,869 kmfrom home
"A lot is happening outside, but what never changes is how kind people can be to you."
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"I have been in Libya since 1995. At that time people in Romania were facing many difficulties due to the economic situation, which was not good enough for me to build my dreams. I applied to an agency to work abroad and the first offer was for a job in Libya, so I came here. I was 25 years old back then. I dreamed of having my own house and improving myself. I still remember how friendly people were with us. They would bring us lots of food all the time. I really felt good from the beginning.

At first, I worked in Gharyan hospital in western Libya. For the first week, the agency actually booked us a hotel and we spent some time off. They took us to see the ruins and different parts of the city.

I still remember how crazy it was in Gharyan hospital. What I loved most was when I worked in the Gynaecology unit. It was a very happy moment when you helped a woman give birth and saw a baby come alive. I felt so happy, I felt very useful. Every night we dealt with 20 cases. And believe me when I say it’s hard work to deal with three women delivering at the same time. I remember one night, I was in the nurse’s room when someone came to us and said ‘delivery on the stairs!’ We were running quickly and actually found the woman on the stairs. All we could do was proceed to help her. Gladly, everything went fine. That night, I will always remember.

After two and half years, I moved to Tripoli. I love my job, even though now I work as a nurse’s supervisor. As a nurse, you need to train yourself from time to time be like doctors. This is a teaching hospital and we used to have seminars for nurses. But now everything has stopped. I still try to attend surgeries, especially the ones that take up to 7 hours. When you work as foreigner, you have to be good, this is why we are here after all.

I would say everything was normal in Tripoli until 2011. For the past 7 years we have started to lack in medical supplies and you can see how much people suffer because of that. We have also been observing many more gunshot and urgent injury cases. Sometimes they call me at night, so I’m on duty to help always. Now, a lot is happening outside, but what never changes is how kind people can be to you.

I went on a road trip once to Leptis Magna (Roman ruins) - it was great. But that was before 2011. After that, I never went back at all. I don’t spend a lot of time outside, but I love cooking. Since I have been based here, I have learned how to cook Libyan cuisine from friends. Because there are people from different nationalities working with us, I try to take the best dish from each country. Sometimes, I go to the beach in the early morning at 7 a.m. and go home when people start to come at midday. I like it more when I’m alone. I also like to go to the old city of Tripoli - they have very nice handcrafts, which we get for ourselves sometimes or as gifts for friends and family.

I miss family, my father and my sister. By moving to Libya, I tried to help us all and I feel like I did. I feel like I raised her, since our mother died when I was only seven years old. I built a house for her, so she can be close to our father and take care of him. I can say after 20 years: my dream came true. Thank god.

I remember in 2011, during the revolution, I went to see my father in Romania. Since the airport was closed, I had to go by land to Tunisia. Along the way, I saw many beautiful houses destroyed. I don’t love to see Libya this way - I feel very sad. It’s home for me and I say that I’m half Libyan. I wish the best for Libya - I wish all the problems were gone.

My father has asked me to move back to Romania, but I’m not planning to do so. I told my father, ‘I will to go back to Romania when Libya becomes better again. When I see people happier, like when I came."

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