MSF/Gabriele Francois Casini
Mohamed, 32, worked as an IT technician in Saudi Arabia and as a translator for MSF in Sudan, before deciding to travel with his wife and five children to Europe.

“My name is Mohamed and I come from Sudan. My parents are from Eritrea but I was born in Sudan, where I studied to become an IT technician.

My father invested a lot of money in my education. After graduating, I decided to go to Saudi Arabia because I couldn’t find any work as an IT expert in Sudan. But I was never made to feel welcome in Saudi Arabia, mostly because of the colour of my skin. So I decided to go back to Sudan.

In 2006 I started working for MSF as a translator, mainly in mobile clinics. There are a lot of good doctors and good people in MSF, and I met a lot of them. I have good memories from that period. The money was good and I enjoyed the work.

After a few months, however, MSF let us all go because it was becoming too dangerous. From that moment on I tried to make my living in Sudan doing many different jobs, but it has been difficult.

Being an Eritrean born in Sudan and having moved a bit to work, I feel like I belong nowhere and everywhere – that I can easily move around and adapt. That’s why I decided to go to Europe. I have a wife and five children who are travelling with me.

Before getting on the boat to Europe, we spent three months in Libya. It is a horrible place, very dangerous, and people are not human there. The moment we crossed the border into Libya, people took me and my family into a house with lots of other people and locked us in. We were not free to move. All they gave us to eat was pasta and water.

The people that kept us locked up were always on drugs and beat us all the time. Having not much money, I sold myself to them to get on the boat with my family. I started working for them as a slave. And they kept on beating me. There was no respect, no humanity.

One day they took us, along with 400 others, to a warehouse. It was night when we were pushed onto the boat. I was put inside the boat, my family was put on top. The trip on the sea was very painful because there were so many of us in such a little space. It was very, very hot. Many people felt like they couldn’t breathe. At a certain point the engine started making weird noises and I got scared.

When we were rescued by your ship we had been at sea for about eight hours. Since the rescue, some of my family are on a different boat. Now all I hope is to be reunited with them once we arrive in Italy. After that I would like to go to Switzerland.”