Layla, Ethiopia

My name is Layla. I’m from Ethiopia. I left almost ten years ago. At that time I was very young, maybe twenty years old. There was no opportunity to work, you know, and I thought maybe I could have a better life. So I left my country and went to Syria to work for three years. After that, I went to Turkey by boat, then to Greece for five years. My daughter was born there. Then I came to Germany. I walked. I carried my daughter on my back for days and days. When you travel with a baby, it’s especially difficult. On the road you need diapers, you don’t have the clothes you need. My daughter was always hungry. We suffered many things.

When I came to Germany, first we lived in a room with four people. One was an old woman from Somalia, and sometimes she beat my baby if she was noisy. So I tried to keep her quiet. Then I lived in a hotel, a very small hotel. It was a difficult time. There was no place for my daughter to play. When we wanted to eat, we didn’t have any place to cook. The mattress, it was so dirty! I had an allergic reaction, but they didn’t want to change the mattress. I couldn’t sleep in that place anymore, so they transferred me to another place.

They took me to a gym. I had my daughter with me and I was pregnant again. We didn’t have a room. Men, women, everybody slept together. Imagine! I couldn’t sleep. We didn’t get much to eat, and the food they gave us was bad. I didn’t have enough money to buy food. I was hungry all the time because I was pregnant. Oh, I was suffering! My daughter didn’t want to eat the food they gave her. She would say, “No!” More than anything, I was afraid. Not for me. For me, no problem. I had suffered a lot before coming to this place. I was afraid something would happen to my daughter. All the time I was crying, crying, crying.

Now I am here in the Women’s Shelter with my two children. The father of my baby is not here. He is living in London. What I wish for the most is to have my family, like before. Almost ten years ago I lived in a family group. I had my father, I had my brothers — everything. Now I want to have my own family! My own home! With my children and a comfortable life — I don’t want a palace. I don’t want money. I just want my children to go to school. I know how to work. I will work. I don’t want to feel ashamed because someone is giving me everything.  I want to be with my husband. I want to know this is my place! This is where I stay. I want to have something of my own. I want to be able to say, “This is MY house! We can stay forever here and nobody will tell me to go.”