Amani’s life changed drastically when her parents called for her to join them in Libya when she was only ten years old. Travelling across three countries and the desert with her four younger sisters, Amani was forced to leave her childhood behind her to make the perilous journey to a border town in southwest Libya. This is her story.
When I was five years old my parents left for Libya, leaving my sisters and I with our grandmother in Arlit, Niger. When I turned ten years old, my father arranged for our journey from Niger to Algeria and then onwards to Libya.
As a kid, I wanted to spend my time like all the other children, but instead, I was responsible for my sibling’s safety and my own while crossing three different countries. Now that I’m older, I understand that it took my father five years to plan the journey, collect enough money and accept the possibility that we might end up in the hands of human traffickers.He was stuck in an agonizing dilemma; either leave us living in poor conditions in Arlit or make us take the dangerous desert trip across three countries. It was the latter.
My four sisters and I were on the road for seven days. We had to stay in one position for many hours during the journey while the car crossed the bumpy dunes to avoid checkpoints and the border patrol. From the Algerian border, a Libyan taxi took us to the border town of Albarkat (7km south of Ghat), where my father was waiting at a local restaurant. I will never have the right words to describe the feeling when I set my eyes on my father for the time after five years. I can still see his smile, hear his soft voice and feel the warm hug he gave me and my sisters. That was probably the best moment of my entire life.
A few months after I arrived in Ghat and started enjoying my life as a ten-year-old child, my father married me off to a farmer in Tunain. We were married for nine years. My husband would leave the house in the early morning and come back after dark. When I was six months pregnant, my husband divorced me. He was in debt to the farm owner and the owner pressured my family to pay off my husband’s debt. My mother paid the money and I was finally free.
I delivered my baby without my ex-husband, who only showed up two weeks later. Since then, he hasn’t been a part of the family and shows up once or twice every four or five months. It is thanks to my mother’s care that I am able to take good care of my son. We give baby Musa all the love and care he needs. My mother also gave birth to a baby girl at the same time. Now we support each other and provide the ultimate love to our children. We give them the family they need and deserve.
Amani, who is now 20 years old, was approached by IOM staff in Ghat who provided her with core relief items, such as diapers and baby ointment for Musa, a kitchen set, which contains pots, pans and utensils for cooking with, and hygiene kits, which contain soap, toothpaste, laundry powder and other sanitary items for her family and the baby. This assistance helps families like Amani's who often go without these items in order to pay rent or afford food to eat. This support was made possible through the Regional Development and Protection Programme financed by the European Union.