This is my story...
My Eritrea, it is a beautiful, blessed yet brutal land.
You can work hard to make a success of your life,
But you have no control to decide where you stand!
The fear of a life held captive by hard, cruel leaders,
Living in the dirt rubbed deep in my hurt of missing my family and friends
Do I stay and carry out the military demand?
At the age of 14 and the idea of leaving all this for... the unknown actually seemed like the better plan.
For girls, it’s bad. Made to marry young to an old man.
Forced out of education into life detention. This is not the life Dan, this is not the life.
I could see the border from where I lived, it looked so appealing.
Seeing countless failed escape attempts, ”I could do it!” -was my gut feeling.
With nothing but the clothes I was wearing,
No family to express my leaving but not for lack of caring,
Just because they couldn’t bear it, to know that I was absent.
I had to be so careful, always checking over my shoulder,
I was alone and scared but the adrenaline pushed me to be bolder!
I had made it, but it wasn’t over,
Walking for two days across the desert, through the forests,
Fearing for my life in the darkness as I heard the unnerving noises of a hyena’s chorus.
I felt so alone.
3 weeks later, captured in Ethiopia seeking refuge in camp Endabanguna.
The next week, Camp Adi Harish, a kind woman from my village recognised my face.
She took me as her son, insisting that I belong alongside her suitcase.
We were here for 2 months, some people much longer.
I can still remember the body aching tiredness, along with the hunger.
But we knew we had to move on. Move on.
Finding transport to our next journey, Sudan.
The woman took out her coins and paid a man.
Her kindness that day I’ll never repay as in a moment... she was gone.
Travelling across the Sahara, on a truck ram packed with people,
Packed like sardines, legs hanging out, feeling crushed like a beetle.
Hanging off the truck driving so fast, some fell, too late.
No going back now, that’s the end for them, the dessert is their fate.
There’s nothing we could do.
It could be one of us next, this is all we knew.
Arrived in Libya, after a journey that only my God could save me from.
Was held for a month, in a hall amongst 2000 other migrants.
One loo, little food, no shower, a drip of water. Barely enough to live.
Bugs crawling in our dirt and over our bodies, what I’d give to be in a safe place.
This was what I was striving for, this was the dream.
I have never witnessed or experienced cruelty like this, I did not feel human,
If we were seen speaking to anyone, we could be beaten, or even killed.
I won’t mention the ways that I have seen this happen, you would feel so ill.
Finally an answer to a prayer, my cousin raised $2000 for me to leave.
I’m taken to a boat where I could float across to Italy.
On the boat, another vessel for too many people, trying desperately to escape their lives.
Women on the top deck, men down below .
People fainting, covered in vomit head to toe.
There was some food going around, but the woman needed it first.
It wouldn’t be too long now before the first man dies of thirst.
I could hear that everyone on the deck was shouting that we were going the wrong way,
Others instructing everyone that we needed to pray, everyone had to pray!
Italian authorities found us stranded out at sea.
They pulled us across like limp fish quivering at the knees.
People half dead due to the conditions, hunger and the heat.
We were taken somewhere by vehicles and then just dumped out on the street.
I made my way to the train station and travelled across to Calais in France,
That is where everyone was heading, where we were told we had a chance.
I managed to stay for only a few days, others had made up their homes,
As if the long journey had conquered them and they’d accepted their slum kingdom.
I was snuck onto a lorry with 8 other strangers, this was our chance to escape.
We had to endure another journey, this time trapped between two large crates.
We were fighting for our survival, no air to barely breath,
Banging furiously on the walls, for our helpless bodies beneath.
The lorry had boarded a ship to the UK, we were almost there.
Out on the other side, the police had found us and to cut a long story short,
I’m escorted to a holding room and then taken by police transport.
My nerves are racing but I am holding on to hope,
My God has helped me thus far and given me the strength to cope.
The Kent Foster services took over because I was still considered a child.
Despite this journey making me a man, I am reminded that I am still a child.
When I first met my English foster parents I could not trust them.
Because the people I had met along my way I had made me question people.
It took time to relax in my new home. But I quickly learnt that my new family did care for me,
they treated me like a son.
Life is challenging, knowing that I still have family in Eritrea and that I haven’t seen my mum in a long time.
But I praise God for getting me through this journey because He was always watching over me,
Always guiding my path.