The Journey Abass
Since the first time I decided to leave my country I felt so emotional. I was about to leave my family, my friends, my country, although there is civil war since long time. My journey started from Egypt. I went there, I worked in factory of cloths for 2 months, 12 hours a day. It was owned by a huge company that owned different branches. The branch that I worked in made men’s suits. 100 people or more worked there, both men and women, old and young. Most of the people were from Egypt. Everyone had his own job. I was doing the testing and marking of the suits. So many were made in one minute. The conditions in the factory were not bad. I worked everyday except Fridays, they were our day off. I was paid 150 dollars a month. There were buses to take everyone home at the end of the day. I worked there for four months until I could save the money to go to Libya.
Then I crossed a long way to Libya. We had been so insulted in Egypt but the Libyans respect Sudanese because before they got a lot of Sudanese teachers but the Ethiopians, Eritreans and Somalians are treated so bad even sell them like slaves. They put us in a small jail with woman and kids. They rape all the girls. One woman especially I remember she touched me. They raped her two girls. She was crying. Until now I cannot forgive myself because I did nothing to help them.
Crossing the sea was another thing. 90% I believed we were going to die. It was like I saw death. I took the boat from Libya with about 100 other people. There were men and women and 5 families with children with us. The conditions were horrible. You have to sit in a boat, you cannot move because there is no space. It was a plastic boat with a small engine on the back. Luckily one person had worked on the sea and knew how to drive, he drove the boat for us. If no one could drive, the smugglers would choose one person and teach them how to drive. The journey on this small boat lasted 5 hours, then we were picked up by an Italian rescue boat. The good thing was that people were so quiet and calm and everyone was rescued. They burned the plastic boat. Then it was a very long journey to reach Ventimiglia in Italy. We slept and woke up, slept and woke up. I was in a very bad position. When we make it to Italia was another level.
Collaborative Artist: Beth Rodway
Beth Rodway is an architect in training and an artist currently studying at the Royal Drawing School. Beth created this piece in response to reading ‘The Journey’ , depicting the boat crossing, with clothes and fabrics flowing in the background based on Abass’ time spent working in the factory. View more of Beth’s work at: www.bethrodway.com