I wish I could tell you all about how I got here and how I made it this far. I didn’t have faith when I started this journey but where my faith has reached “da only God”. Hardship pushed me out of my country and the hope of milk and honey pulled me to Europe.
It was hard, and I couldn’t sit there and do nothing. Life had served me lemons and the hardship couldn’t even allow me make lemonade- that’s how tough it became. I didn’t complete high school and I have no skill-based training. There weren’t many options for me. Besides, with all the stories and pictures on social media, nothing could convince me to stay home and make it work. I had to leave. I just had to make it out, by any means necessary. I spoke to a few of my friends who crossed over successfully and no one talked about the peril along the way. They talked about the nice times, the glamour and glitter. The journey dragged me through several layers of hell before my butt even touched the boat.
I was told to raise $5000 USD which would transport me from my city to Libya, Italy and finally Germany. Germany was my dreamland, after seeing captivating pictures and hearing awe-inspiring stories about Hamburg. I told myself that I would do everything I could to get the money. $5000 USD, plus the extra money I had to spend during the course of my journey, is enough to start a business. But, I raised the money. How? That’s another story for another day, but if my back could talk, it would have probably narrated for you. I worrrkkkkkkkeddddd for every dime and raised $6000 USD. I started my journey in April 2014 for Nigeria. I was there for 2 weeks and was linked with few guys who I followed through the dessert to get to Libya. No one told me what the journey entailed, I would have at least tried to prepare physically and mentally. They only told me to take water, not mentioning the quantity.
We spent a week and two days in the desert. The gallon of water I took lasted only two days- that is two out of nine days. Try to imagine what I went through during the remaining days. I was a part of a team of 30 persons but there were almost 1000 other migrants we encountered along the way. We had it really bad but even at that point, I had no idea what was waiting ahead of me. I wanted to give up, but I didn’t know my way back and I couldn’t leave the guys I started the journey with. I basically tied my shirt to another guy’s to avoid getting lost from my team. The guy, who I barely knew, took advantage of the situation. He squeezed every part of my body until we made it to Libya- if he had had the chance, he would have done more. At this point I thought I had seen it all. I stomached his bad breath and smelly body because I thought he was my saving grace. He protected me from the many checkpoints along the road where girls were captured and raped every day. I had to go for the lesser evil, I let him have his way in exchange for protecting me from becoming food for the hungry lions (stinky, smelling men who think it’s their right to take advantage of desperate women) that were around.
We made it to through the scorching hot Sahara desert. There was no water and people started drinking their urine. I drank my urine. I didn’t want to die like others in that desert. We finally got to Sabha, through Niger Republic, and only one person died from my team. And that was a blessing- my first realization of God’s protection. The seed of faith my parents planted in me started to germinate but then, not long after that, we were arrested and sold as slaves. Yes, I was sold as a sex slave and the rest is history. I spent double of what was initially discussed, I had sex for money I didn’t see nor touch, and I don’t know if I can ever shake those feelings out of my memory. The scent of all those men haunt me every day. I can never be myself ever again, or maybe, hopefully, God will take it away someday. Going to Libya was the worst decision I ever made and that has affected my being in Germany. I can’t see happiness.
There are so many traumatized Africans living in Europe; the way we got here, all that we have to do to get and maintain a status, is driving everyone insane. It is not worth it; it is not worth the stress. The boat we took was essentially a big floater and we were on that small boat, 130 persons, for 3 days. So many people died and are dying every day. The Mediterranean Sea is the biggest mass grave in the world. I cried my eyes out seeing all the kids and pregnant women screaming, seeing the dead bodies of people I knew or had encounters with.
I made it to Italy, paid extra (cash and kind), until I reached my destination. I got to Germany, barely physically intact, but with mental and emotional scars and bruises. The struggle is real. It has been from one issue to the other. Europe is not what people post on social media, it is no milk and less honey. Those who get here legally, or as students, have better opportunities. But for asylum seekers, the application process is complicated, and you don’t have a say in where you want to stay. You can’t freely travel nor visit your home country. Discrimination and irregular jobs are all you can get. You can never feel at home, sadly. And then things get worse for you if your application is denied, that’s a double blow.
If I had a chance to tell this to the many Africans that are walking into their doom, I will. Don’t let social media fool you. It’s not easy for an African to climb the ladder of wealth in Europe. Most Africans here live from hand to mouth and on credit. Don’t get me wrong, the living conditions and opportunities here are better than what I had back home. If you can get here the legal way without risking your life, go for it. But don’t allow yourself, or any other person, take the risk of going to Libya. It’s not worth it. There are some people who might have a different opinion but if we are all to be honest, there is no milk and the honey is not for everyone.
Authored by Jaylee Sarsih
Featured picture by David Tetteh