Sahara’s story, Slovakia

Sahara and her daughters. Photo by Michal Parnica/ETP Slovensko

Sahara and her daughters. Photo: Michal Parnica/ETP Slovensko

Sahara had to flee Somalia and later was offered resettlement. We met her on her way, in the Emergency Transit Centre in Humenne, Slovakia. She told us her story with incredible easiness.

“I told it many times, do not worry, I am settled with my past and trying to look only into the future. I am not afraid, maybe I do not realize how difficult it will be to start my new life in different place but I know that it will definitely be the best what I could have ever done for my beloved daughters.

I was born in 1972 in Somalia. I lived in a city together with my parents and brother until my parents died a violent death that I witnessed at the age of 16. I remained alone with my grandmother who decided to leave Somalia in order to protect me. Our journey took two months, me and my grandmother walked all the way to the shores of Djibouti where we took a boat through the Arabian Sea to Yemen. I almost lost hope after the engine of the boat had broken down. Fortunately, our over-crowded boat was found by a ship and its crew helped us to reach the coast of Yemen safely.

Our lives depended on the help of others, who provided us food and temporary shelter. We slept and begged in the streets until we were sheltered in one of the refugee camps in Yemen. My life went normal, I found a job as a servant and was happy to be able to take care of myself and the only relative, who was close to me, my grandmother. But the journey exhausted my grandmother, whose health condition deteriorated rapidly. After her death, I remained alone and met a man who wanted to marry me was a recovery. Being a single woman and a refugee in a foreign country is not that easy, trust me. I liked him too. After our wedding, we found a decent house in the capital of Yemen, which offered much more job opportunities. Our three daughters visited school and I was pregnant with our fourth child when my husband filed a divorce and I remained alone again.

I knew that without any support, I would not be able to survive and decided to ask UNHCR for help. I applied for resettlement and found myself to be chosen out of hundreds of refugees waiting with me in harsh living conditions.

People say it must have been a really hard decision to leave everything behind and move to another country with different culture. I made the decision very easily, grabbed the hands of my children, like my grandmother grabbed mine 27 years ago and now, we are on a way towards a new, better life.”

Text: Lucia Kolpakova, UNHCR Slovakia

1 family torn apart by war is too many

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