Podcast 8: Voices at Sea

Welcome to the MOAS podcast where we want to include you in what we do, to explore different angles of migration, and help you to better understand the people we save. In this edition we’re talking to the people that make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean. The audio snapshots give you a glimpse at they leave their homes and the experiences they face on the way.

The water, the wave, the sea, many people lose their friends there, I just crossed my heart that I would enter Italy.  That sea is very dangerous but God is with me.

That’s Promise from Nigeria describing her experience crossing the Mediterranean.

This month we’re talking to the people who are part of the migration phenomenon. We’re exploring their journeys, their new lives in Europe and learning more about the organisations that help them.

Sentence or two framing the arc of the podcast itself – initial contact and rescue, how time is spent on board, looking forward to the future

we’re dropping you into the search and rescue zone, the still blue Mediterranean Sea …

A call has come through from the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome, Italy.

Maybe let’s say something a bit dramatic about ‘unstable, overcrowded rubber dinghies have been spotted’

The Phoenix is on the scene.

The rubber boat by your vessel…ah yes we are coming to take the people on board…the two rubber boats right?…we are going to the first one that you distributed lifejackets to already… No no, this one is safe, this one is safe and we take all the guys from the migrant boat too and on your port side do you see two more migrant vessels…As yes we see, we see… if you take care of them….

….the women and children…. Take my hand….stay away… come on guys, push him up, give him a hand…

‘I am from Cameroon. I am 24 years old. Life in Libya is very hard.  Strangers, they are not welcome in Libya, it is very strong.  That is the reason why we try to cross by any way.  So it is very difficult to live because there is no stability, there is war. No law, everybody make their own law in Libya. So it is not easy for us.

‘My name is Rosemary and I am from Anambra West. My journey so far has been truly hellish.  You know before you to get to safety you have to suffer. All the way through the desert we suffer so much, to this place. Even when we left Libya we spent almost 14 hours on the sea … we spent 14 hours on the sea at which point our boat started leaking.  In our broken boat we were just praying to God to help us get to our destination. Well thank God today for life.’

…stay steady, give me your hand, mind your head… come on, you…

…everybody like you, same like you…there is the doctor…

…Annie?…yes

‘I am Wally, Wally Koro, I am from Gambia.  I lost my parents very early, that’s why.  I was going to school, I don’t have money to pay so I went up to grade 9 but I couldn’t afford it anymore so that’s the time I left school.  I have no job. I had no solution so this is why I had to follow this route. This journey is not easy because sometimes you find a job and you get paid to continue your journey, sometimes you find a job and they don’t pay you, or there are these bandits who come and take your money. These routes is not easy definitely.  We suffered there a lot.’

‘My name is Happy, I’m from Nigeria. The reason that I decided to leave my country is I saw people going to Libya so I ran down with them.  I ran down with them also, that’s why I’m here. I don’t have anywhere to stay.  There is no father, no home, there is nothing.  That’s why I’m here. I feel good that by God’s grace.  I was crying that God should help me because I left home, I had no father, I have no brothers.  I was born with fire in our house, everywhere was burned with my brothers and my sister. Now I feel good, when I was in the hills I was OK.’

Before he leave he said ‘Go to the North’ and he showed us a couple of stars ‘you need to follow those stars…when the sun starts to rise you need to have the sun on your right and go this way’.  So after two hours the sea was calm, after the second hour the waves started to get a little bit bigger, two hours later we checked the fuel, we have barrels, the first one was finished, we changed to the second one, there were 8 of them. Two and half hours later the sun started to rise and the waves got bigger and bigger and we were all monitoring the perimeter looking out for pirate.  If they found us it’s likely they will pick us up, take our money if you have it, phones, stuff like that.  They will take engine and the fuel and most probably they will damage the boat, that’s what they do normally.

So we were thinking of that the whole journey. Until around 6.30 things started to get better, the sun was fine.  We thought we might make it off Libyan waters into international waters. After 40 minutes we started to see something that looked like a boat, we started to panic because we thought it was Libyan.  They told us that we will get to international waters after 4 hours or 5 hours. But, because we started our journey moving to the West we thought maybe 5 hours so for it is a little bit earlier so it was like for us 100% Libyans so people started to panic and stand and that made the boat unstable, they were about to jump overboard.’

…Children singing…

‘My name is Mahmood, my wife is Dooa, my daughter is Rita.  We came from Syria, to Sudan to Libya.  We started the journey on a wooden boat from Sabratha to Italy. For the boat journey we paid 600 Euros, maybe more for each of us.  To get some stuff we are paying, if you want to pay to take your stuff you need to pay, otherwise you can throw it in the water so that another person can come on board. From Syria to this point more than 10,000 Euros. We tried in Libya to go to the UN but they didn’t accept us because we were not registered as UN refugees…they said we have to register from the beginning and it would take a year to process but we couldn’t stay in Libya for one year.  I want to tell you something honestly, sometimes when you see a beautiful woman in Libya she can be kidnapped.  They tried to take your wife? Me no.  I don’t let anyone steal my stuff from me. But I heard and saw a lot of people. Syrian? Syrian, just boys, not girls.  He took our sat phone especially before the journey on the water.  When you saw the Libyan families we have more respect for us.’

‘My name is Hiba, my son’s name is Simar, we come from Syria. I was teacher, I was a teacher in Syria, I was studying English specifically translation.  The war impacted on my work which made us decide to come here. We want to go to Sweden because my husband is there. When the war was at its peak, my family has died and we needed to leave, so we went by sea so we could travel to my husband.  We went from Syria to Libya.  We stayed in Libya for one month and decided to go to Europe, to Sweden by crossing the water. In Libya it is terrible, we watched people die in front of our eyes.  My son also very tired.  I want from you and from all the people who see me to help us, help the Syrian, help the people of Syria.’

Tidying the deckIgor, Igor…

‘My name is Bright, I’m 19 years old. I’m from Nigeria.  I feel good, I’m away from Nigeria because things there are very stressful and very hard so I had to find a way to Libya so I could find a way to Europe. Things are very hard in Nigeria, so that’s why.  So I can I help my family. They are in Benin in Edo State, Nigeria.  They are not doing well. Times are difficult. Food isn’t cheap, so I decided to help them… they are my blood so I can’t just leave them to die with no food to eat.  My father and mother’s farm isn’t working.  Things are very difficult. There’s no way to eat, no money. So I decided to take the risk.’

Your son, he’s upstairs…OK… so you’ll come out together.. that’s OK…

‘I’m Appy and I’m from Nigeria.  My future dream in Italy because in Nigeria I was dreaming of becoming a doctor. As science students, which is science laboratory technology, that’s what I wanted to do in Nigeria. But   due to not being able to take a bribe before getting into school, no money to take the bribe so my hopes stopped there but I know when I get to my destination I will pursue my dream.’

‘My name is Mattias Frank and I come from Nigeria.  My future dream is to shape my own whatever I have in this world to help others not having such urge to take this risk again. Because when you’re a boy your thinking is how to commit crime, but when you have someone supporting you, you will not be thinking such evil of doing such risks.’

‘What do you wish for your son and the baby that you have in your womb? I wish them to live in peace, in a place of continuous full peace.’

‘We are really happy now, we are really happy that we left Libyan territory and we are happy now because there’s a nightmare just over. We are started a new page and there is hope, hope that things will be better from now on, that is what we feel. There is a saying, do not cross the bridge until you get there so now I think we need to get there first. I need to get a shower, to eat food, something like that. Then I will start to think.’

‘My dream… To be a great woman, to be a crazy wonderful woman that is my dream.  I need money, I want to work so I can have money so I can go back to my country and make a difference. I want to become a great somebody in life… yes.’

What you’ve just listened to is but a glimpse at why people leave their homes and the violence and exploitation they face on the way.

This is real, the risks are real, not just words inked in academic text.

Stay tuned for our next podcast where we’ll be heading to the German city of Erfurt … speaking to the refugees who’ve arrived there and the people who’ve welcomed them in.

Check out our latest updates on facebook, twitter, instagram, youtube and AudioBoom, or you can support our rescue missions by giving whatever you can to help us save lives at sea. From all of us here at MOAS: goodbye.

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained.

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