I have to take care of them so that their own future will not be the way I lived my life.
My name is Sunday, I’m from Nigeria, and I’m soon to be 40 years old. More specifically, I come from the Edo State, situated in Southern Nigeria, which is predominantly catholic. I’ve been living in Barcelona for the last 14 years. Yet I still have not received my papers which would allow me to work legally. I spend my nights sleeping in an occupied house in the outskirts of the city, along with my pregnant wife and 2-year-old daughter.
I was born in Nigeria in the 1980’s. My life, although being tough, was very good. When I finished school, I got an accounting diploma from a technical institute. I decided to flee from Nigeria in my early 20’s, as the situation in the country was becoming unsustainable and due to some personal circumstances.
I got in contact with some traffickers that agreed to take me from border to border if I paid a high price. This allowed me to go from Nigeria to Niger, then from Niger to Algeria, and finally from Algeria to Morocco. This long and arduous journey across the Sahara Desert, filled with bad experiences, came to a halt when I got to northern Morocco. My goal was to get to Europe in an inflatable boat, but the price was too high for me: €1000.
I stayed and worked in Morocco for three years, trying to gather the necessary sum that would lead me to Europe. My family, back in Nigeria, were also desperately helping me, by selling anything lying around the house, including furniture. Finally, thanks to these prolonged efforts, I managed to afford my place on one of the rubber boats. I took nothing with me, as it was not allowed due to the boat being already severely overcrowded.
Upon my arrival in Cádiz, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand I was filled with joy that I had survived a very deadly migrant route, but on the other, I was terrified because I had no idea what I was going to do in an unknown land where I knew nobody. Soon after I found myself in Barcelona, through the help of some people I found along the way.
In these last 14 years in Barcelona, I have suffered through a lot of discrimination! A lot, a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot! It’s too much. I can’t even say it. Mostly with people that come from Africa.
Things here are very critical for us. It’s very difficult. Why? Because if they gave us the documents we need to work, we would be able to afford what we need and take care of ourselves. But if you’re not given any documents. There is nothing you can do. Nobody will take you for any job. You know?
The process of getting documents in Spain is very difficult. Spanish authorities require someone to live in Spain for three years before they can get their papers. The problem is that, during those three years, you are unable to work legally as you don’t have the necessary papers. This effectively means that these laws were made for people that have the economic means to stay in a place for such a long time without having to work. I had to look for informal jobs, which paid in cash. However, one day I got caught before completing the three years, which is delaying even more the process.
Please let the EU, or someone, give us our documents. Then we’ll work and live a good life. All my life I’ve been suffering, all my life, all my life… I’ve never enjoyed one day. I see people with big cars. I see people with good houses. I see people living a good life. But in my life, I’ve never lived well. So, you see, life is a very terrible life that I’m living. You understand?
Despite all of this, I remain optimist about what the future may hold, especially for my wife and children. I have to take care of them so that their own future will not be the way I lived my life. So that they will not suffer, the way I suffered in life.