Testimony taken aboard the Aquarius on 14th June 2018
My name is Muhammad*. I am from Nigeria; I am 18 years old. I lost my parents when I was 11 years old in a car accident. Since then I was raised by my grandparents. Growing up in my homeland without my parents was the most difficult thing for me, until reaching Libya. Reasons I say this, Libya is no place for any living person. They take everything from you including your spirit and crush it. Libya is a violent place where many people are raped and murdered. I am glad I wasn’t one of them. When I decided to flee from this violence, a friend of my parents financed my way to a better place, aboard a boat leaving from Libya. It was supposed to drive us to Europe crossing the Mediterranean.
At some point during the night, one of the light skinned men boarded the boat and told us to, “head straight!”, pointing at the stars, and said “follow those”… he meant north, we had to go north to land. We were told it would take us three to four hours to reach Europe. I was terrified, but also relieved by it would only take so little time to freedom.
We were 135 in the boat. It was complete darkness when we left. Sadly, none of us had life-jackets. They wanted much money for them, none of us had enough. We spent almost 24 hours in the sea, we left on Friday at 9pm, and we were rescued at 9pm on Saturday. Before we were rescued, our boat was almost half filled with water, myself and the others were so scared. We fell in the sea, it was cold and dark, I found myself completely naked in the sea, people were tearing at me, my clothes, everything they could get their hands on to stay alive. I fought very hard to get the life-jackets you were throwing to us. After a few moments, I managed to get one and shouted for help! I could get rescued and then given medical treatment.
I am fine now, and start again to believe in my dream: my main goal is to study and become a doctor in order to help my country, because in Africa, they are a lot of people suffering. I want to save lives and I want my country to be proud of me. I could see on the Aquarius what saving lives means. I want my nation and seeing it live on this ship, I know now, this will always be my dream.
*Name has been changed
Photo & Interview: Kenny Karpov