I am from Eritrea. I have five sisters and one brother there; I am the eldest. I am not happy that I have left my family.

I studied until the 11th grade, after which it was time for military service. If I didn’t leave, I would have to be a soldier, all my life. I fled to Sudan twice to avoid military service. They caught me and sent me to prison both times. Finally, I left Eritrea and made it to Sudan.

In Sudan, it was too hard to find work, so after six months I moved to Egypt. I only stayed for two months. It was not safe for me to be one girl on my own. I lived with friends I had met in Sudan. When they decided to go to Italy, I went too.

We stayed in Iskandariyah for a week waiting for smugglers’ boats. I didn’t expect it to be so dangerous. Our boat was so small, but they took 450 people. Many girls and boys and children. They took everything from us: our money, rings, our phones, even clothes; they had knives. The trip took 14 days, four of which were with no food or water.

An Italian boat found us and took us to Sicily. We spent a month in the camps before I was moved to this center.

I have talked to my mother: she said this is my best chance; she said I have to do it legally now. My mother knows she is lucky I did not die at sea.

I have seen many things—many bad things—that can happen if you flee your country. If I got the chance, I would bring my sisters and my brothers directly.

The Italian government has treated me well; they are kind and fair; they are teaching me Italian. I think it is better if I learn no matter where I end up. I want to start to get qualifications to help me get a job.

I want to stay.

The Stories