Demba from the Gambia
At this point, I would like to report on our apprentice turned vehicle mechanic and his long journey getting to this point.
As the son of a peanut farmer in Gambia, Demba’s education ended after primary school because going to high school was too expensive for a family that had many children. He therefore decided to save some money and look for education opportunities elsewhere. He wanted to travel to Libya with a friend of his. His father even sold part of his land to be able to give him around €100. He then began a journey at just 15 years old that would take him further than he planned.
On the way to Libya he was arrested in Mali and all of his possessions, including clothes and passport, were taken off him. His hard earned money was gone quicker than he had hoped. It was one month later that he was able to continue his journey onto Niger. Finally arriving in Libya, he found out that his travel companion, who he had just separated from, had been shot dead. Completely alone in a foreign land, without knowledge of the local language and with no money, he wanted to go home.
He tried to do this from Algeria but it was not possible as all of the borders had been closed. He then met other refugees, who took him to Morocco to look for work. Demba found himself in a form of work camp where he worked for his accommodation but did not earn money. He described this as the worst part of his journey as he was close to dying and was confronted with death every day. He could not stay there and “escaped” with several others over electrified barbed-wire fencing to the Spanish side of Morocco. They undertook this on several occasions while looking for work, until Demba, injured and completed exhausted, could not go on.
Arrested by the Police he was placed in refugee accommodation for 3 months in Barcelona. After that he lived on the streets until Maria helped him. He stayed at her apartment on several occasions. Showing compassion, she bought him a bus ticket to Berlin. He still has contact with her.
His journey ended in December 2013 in a camp on Oranienplatz. From then on things went up hill. He registered properly and obtained better accommodation. It was two years since his departure. In that time he was not able to speak to his family once. His Mother was so overwhelmed with happiness to hear from him that she collapsed. It was only at this point that he found out that he had travelled through war zones.
At a youth organisation he met a young woman who was volunteering. They got to know and love each other. As asylum rejection threatened, she did not want to let him go, so they planned their wedding. He was therefore able to stay and obtain the education that had started him on his way. He went to school in Berlin and gained an intermediate leaving certificate with good grades. He wanted to complete an apprenticeship in mechanics or electrics, like his older brother. In search of a company that was open to the world, he came into contact with KP Logistics at a job fair.
After the first meeting, he was so impressed that he moved house and turned down an employment opportunity in Berlin. We support him and now he is living in our student shared apartment in Stavenhagen. Several colleagues have mentioned that he is more than happy there. He likes the work, which he is continually learning, his colleagues and his mentor like him very much. In addition, his colleagues have taken him under their wing and have fully integrated him into the team. He has reached his goal and now dreams of getting his heavy duty vehicle license, for which we will gladly help him.