THE HOPEFULS: "It is better to die than to be here - I have nothing"

by Kieran Guilbert | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 5 October 2016 10:00 GMT

GOUDIRY, Senegal,Oct 5 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Aliou Thiam, 28, a husband and father of two children, plans to leave Goudiry in southeast Senegal and migrate to Europe via Libya, frustrated by a lack of development and desperate to provide for his family.

"The only thing we know is migration. This village is how it is because of migration.

I plan to leave for Libya soon. If I had the means to invest here, in my country, I would stay and succeed here. But I don't have anything – that is why I want to go, why I need to go.

Look at this village – anyone successful is in France. Only us young men remain here – the rest are over there.

I will leave behind my wife and my two children (one aged four and one under one) but it is not a problem for me.

Others, who have tried and failed, have warned me about the journey. But they are just talking, and running their mouths.

Those who have come back did not help us with money, or bring work or tools – nothing. They just talk and talk.

Us young men who are here, we talk about a lot, mostly about the development of our village, our land and our country. It is all about development. What matters for us is to have jobs.

If you migrate it means you will have means, and means to help the development of Senegal. Migration equals success.

Nothing works in Senegal. What we need here is to have a salary - working for companies or in factories would be best. Using our hands is all we know since we've never been to school.

It's hard to have money. You have a wife and three or four kids and every day you need to give money to your wife to cook. Where can we find that? It is not easy.

Leaving is way better than staying here, working for nothing. There is nothing in the Tambacounda region.

It is better to die than to be here. I have nothing here."

Yaya Bocar Diallo, 35, also a husband and father, knows all about the dangers of crossing the Sahara and the Mediterranean to get to Europe, but feels he has no other choice but to try.

"Whether it is buildings or wells, everything here is done by migrants. We have no means or materials - we have nothing.

It doesn't matter if you are 18-years-old or 30-years-old - you never have anything. You live with your parents, you have a wife and children, but you cannot buy anything nor do anything.

So you choose to migrate. 

When you see someone from your village who left with nothing, and comes back years later with a lot of money and can build a house, of course you are tempted to do the same thing.

My decision is to migrate because I have a wife and children and I am not young any more. At this point in my life, I want to have something that I can feed my family with.

I have been a motorbike driver for a few organisations, but to have a stable job with a regular salary here is impossible.

I tried having a shop here and failed. I don't have the means to work and succeed here. I only dream about migrating.

I have heard of all the problems for migrants along the way.

I have many friends who took the same route. Even if they did not die in the sea, and arrived at their final destinations, they still had many obstacles and difficulties.

All of my friends who left called me once they got to Europe - they told me about the dangers of the journeys and warned me about the dangerous places.

People dying in the Sahara, people capsizing in their boats, I have heard it all. I hear it too on the TV and the radio.

I know everything.

This has created doubts in my mind. If it was not for that, I would be long gone.

I know what I face, I know the risks of the journey.

But I have no other choice, no other option that would give me what I need - only migration.

Even if I don't go there – to Europe - I have to go somewhere else to find something."

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