Sister Sherly Joseph with some of the children of destitute migrants Caritas are helping.

Credits: Michele Bombassei/IOM 2008 – MLY0003

Vivian*, 24, left Nigeria to look for a better life in Europe. Almost two years later, she’s going back home having only got as far as Libya.

Even though Vivian has a degree in biology and integrated science, she couldn’t find a job at home in Nigeria. The journey across desert and sea to a land where she didn’t know anyone seemed like her only chance.

Getting to Libya was much tougher than she imagined. Vivian paid a trafficker to take her across the desert. By the time they got to Duruku in Niger, he wanted more money.

“My family couldn’t afford to send me any more money, so I had to ask a fellow traveller to help me,” she said.

The man who paid the trafficker $400 (€290) was more than just another traveller. He was the father of the child that Vivian was carrying. Vivian had got pregnant not long into her journey. Every day she faced the challenge of not having enough food or water.

But with the dream of Europe, Vivian persisted on her difficult journey. She didn’t give up when she was arrested and detained for two months in the desert. Even when heavily pregnant, she still travelled 800km in the back of a pick-up truck covered by a tarpaulin.

She had to rely on strangers to help her on her journey once she got out of the camp in the desert. The driver of the pick-up tried to help her find lodging with another Nigerian once she arrived in Tripoli, but the man refused.

Exhausted and wandering the capital’s streets alone, Vivian was lucky enough to meet a woman who took her to the Tripoli Christian Fellowship. There she was given accommodation and was helped with hospital bills when it was time to give birth.

The woman lost her job and was no longer able to help Vivian. Through a friend, she contacted Caritas in Tripoli. They helped her with rent, food, clothes and with things for her baby. Following so many difficulties, Vivian decided that the best option is to return home to Nigeria.

“I just can’t face more suffering,” said Vivian. “I’m now happy with the idea of returning home. I will continue my studies. I hope to find a job that will give me a good salary and some dignity.”

Caritas helped Vivian contact the International Organisation for Migration to organise her return. Sr Sherly Joseph, who works for Caritas in Tripoli, says they also work with migrant women to help them understand just how difficult life abroad can be.

“Many of these young women are looking for a better life and an easier way to make money,” said Sr Sherly. “Many of them aren’t informed about the risks, many don’t even know what an international passport is.”