Student, 1997, Barawe, Somalia.

I was born in a period of huge turmoil. I guess it wasn’t the right time for me to be born.

September 29, 2016

I’m not even 20 years old and most of my life was hard and difficult. My life was full of risks and danger. It is very complicated and painful for me to mention them. I have lived in different places in Somalia because the situation related to the civil war didn’t allow me to stay in one place long.

I was born in the district of Jalalaqsi, around 160 km from the city of Beledweyne in south-central Somalia.

I don’t have much to say about my childhood. I never really had a good time with my parents. My father was a soldier.

I arrived in Luxembourg on the 28 of December 2015.

Jalalaqsi

When I was 10 years old, I had to leave Jalalaqsi, the city I was born in

After our neighbours left Jalalagsi to escape the Al-Shabaab, a jihadist terrorist group based in East Africa (http://stanford.io/2d0MPu2 ), my mother decided it was also safer for me to leave. There was a threat on all the young men since that terrorist group was looking for new soldiers. That family we knew had established in the city of Galkayo. My mother sent me to that family to be safe. They accepted me. My mother stayed in Jalalaqsi to watch our property. That family took care of me like I was their own child. They treated me like a family member. They sent me to school. I realized I was lucky.

It was then when I took the decision to make something out of my life. I was hard working at school.

I also used to play a lot of football. I stayed in that family from 2007 to 2012.

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My problems started when I turned 14

In may 2012, people found out I was dating a girl that was much older that me, a girl from a rich and well-known family from Galkayo. When they found out, they punished me, they beat me up. One night, they took me out of town. They threatened me badly. The lady I was dating saved me. She promised she would not see me again. Still, I had to leave Galkayo.

By that time, my mother had reached the city of Barawe. Both of my sisters were married and my brother had joined the military to defend himself from the Al- Shabaab. I decided to join my mother in Barawe.

It was a 1000 km trip, a dangerous trip as the Al-Shabab are controlling nearly all of Somalia.

I left on a Friday, on a bus. After one day I reached the Adado district. I had to pass many checkpoints on the streets, which is very dangerous. Our bus was checked by robbers. We were around 70 passengers on the bus. We had to get out. I was hiding the small amount of money I had (30 dollars). I had given it to the driver.

One lady was wearing earrings. The robbers tore one off. She was bleeding, crying hysterically.

They disappeared into the forest. We couldn’t stop the lady’s bleeding. All people were shocked, very saddened and frustrated.

From that moment on the trip went totally wrong.

They treated me like I wasn’t a human being

We finally reached the area that was controlled by the Al-Shabaab by the evening. The next morning, they had a conversation with each of us. They wanted to know the purpose of our journey. I was frightened. They were many people. They asked me where I was going and why. They started to take people aside. I had a small luggage with me. A friend of mine had given me that luggage when I left Galkayo. What I didn’t know, was that inside that luggage, in a pocket, there was my friends Unicef ID card. The Al – Shabaab thought it was my card and that I was a member of Unicef. They thought I was a Christian. They took me to a city suburb, to a place where they punish people.

They removed all my clothes. They beat me up. They treated me like I wasn’t a human being.

They wanted me to tell them things, but I couldn’t. I had nothing to say because I didn’t know anything. They brought me to a huge container filled with hot oil.

They scare people by bringing them very close to the boiling oil. They hold you over the container to make you reveal the things you know.

I didn’t say anything. They arrested me. They covered my face and brought me to jail. I spent 37 days in jail. They beat me up every day. They hardly gave me any food.

In this prison, I met two guardians from my tribe: the Baadicade clan

I don’t know how they found out we were from the same tribe as I didn’t talk to anyone all that time.

They saved me. They told me to obey them, to do exactly what they advised me. I could hardly believe they wanted to save me. But they did. On a Friday evening, while they were on duty watching us prisoners and keeping the gate, they took me aside and gave me good food. I had to gain strength in order to be able to escape and run. Then they told me to run away. They said: “ You have two hours. In two hours we will inform the chief that you escaped”. I ran like crazy.

The land was flat, it was a semi-desert. I didn’t know where I was running to. I just ran. I heard the bullets in the distance. I could see the flashlights. Night had fallen and I decided to stop running and to hide. I found a bush. I hide into a tree.

I had taken care not to leave footprints, putting my feet on stones and not on the sand. They would have killed me for sure. I was praying. I saw them but they didn’t find me. They came close though. I stayed around 18 hours in that tree. Then I ran again. Just going straight. I ran the whole night.

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Dirie

The next day I hide again. I was dying. I was eating the tree’s leaves. Finally I saw an old nomad with a camel. He was living in the bush. I observed him for some time. Then I called for him. I explained him my situation.

He was kind and understanding. He gave me some camel milk but I couldn’t keep it in my system. I was too weak. I was vomiting blood.

His name was Dirie. I own him my life. He looked after me. I stayed three weeks with him. Finally he took me to a small city. Months later, I heard he passed away. I was very sad to hear that.

Life wasn’t good in Barawe

I finally reunited with my mother in Barawe. We lived there some time. Life wasn’t good. I couldn’t go to school or work. Freedom was inexistent. I couldn’t move freely.

The Al-Shabaab decided to collect all the young men and train them on how to fight and kill.

One evening they came for me. My mother told them I was out. They told her that I had to enter their army.

I escaped Barawe. I was dressed like a woman while my mother was dressed like a man. My mother accompanied me on the way to Mogadishu. But she had to go back to Barawe. When the Al-Shabaab found out I escaped, they took one of my sisters as revenge. From Mogadishu I took a flight to Kambala, Ouganda. Then I took cars and buses to reach north Soudan. I had to face so many challenges and problems. Finally I arrived in Khartoum. There the smugglers kidnapped a family and me. We escaped.

I took the train to Assouan, Egypt and then reached Alexandria. From there I took a small boat to Bari, Italy.

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I am from a country where people have no hopes. They are so dark inside because they have no dreams

I like Luxembourg’s multicultural society. I am so proud and relieved to be here now. I met some very kind and understanding friends. They often advise me on how to do things in order to reach my plans. I appreciate their advice very much. I need support and advice. I believe there are a lot of things I can learn to do perfectly in case I get encouragement and support.

I need to keep myself busy in order forget my hard times and difficulties. I have started a new life here. I am forcing myself to forget my past life and all I went through. I must be a positive thinker.

Luxembourg is not yet my home, to me there is no place like home except Somalia. I believe there bad and good people in every society, like in my country.

My plans

Firstly I believe I should focus on learning French.

The language is the key of everything, they key of integration. I hope so much that I will be given the chance to find a job and get to be a member of this society. I want to live a normal life like anyone here.

Finally I will learn Luxembourgish, which is very useful to everyone who wishes to live here.

I am here now 10 months and I am waiting for my interview at the Immigration service in order to obtain my refugee status.

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It’s difficult and sad to stay alone in the foyer

I live in a foyer between Diekrich and Vianden. I’m doing my third French class in Walferdange three times per week. I also do fitness every evening except on the weekend to keep myself busy.  On the weekends, I get out, try to meet new friends because I believe the more friends I have, the more every door will be open for me. I’m a friendly person.

I love to have more friends with different nationalities and cultures and of course religions. I can’t wait to meet more people!

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