Read Our Special Feature: Voices from Afghanistan
West Africa

I Left because of Religious Conflict

I wanted to stay in Africa, but I wanted my life to be secure, so I came to Europe.

Heydi, West Africa
Heydi, West Africa
Heydi, West Africa

Editing by Amy Stevenson

Photography by Kristi Burton

I left home when I was about fourteen because of religious conflict and violence. Our way of living in Africa is different from the Western world. We are not used to a police system or police people [who protect citizens]. If you have money, you are safe. If not, you are powerless.

My family is from West Africa. My mom was from the southern part of our country; my dad was from the northern part. In the north, most people are Muslims. If a Muslim wants to marry a Christian or convert to Christianity, it’s difficult. The Muslims there didn’t allow my dad to convert to [Christianity], so he never did.

Several years ago, my father took me to visit his parents in the north. One day, early in the morning, a fight [broke out in the] community and two died. Some people came to my dad’s house. They had a gun and killed my father. They said, “He married a Christian. Where is his bastard? We want to kill him so we finish off the family.” I was taking my shower. The bathroom and tub were outside the house. I had just tied my towel around me when I ran to the road. Alongside the road, I stopped a car and was crying. In our country, if you see someone who is in difficulty, if you know him or not, you help. The man asked me, “What has happened?” I explained. He took me to a border town, and I stayed with him. Then he took me to Libya, and I found a job before going on to Italy.

I have come to seek asylum. I want to continue my education and go to school to be a barber. I don’t have the intention of buying a house or car. I only want to live my life as my own, and if I want to buy shoes or food, I [want to be able to] buy them.

I wanted to stay in Africa, but I wanted my life to be secure, so I came to Europe.

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