Siva’s story

December 2016

Siva is 18 years old and comes from Nigeria. When she told me this story in November 2016, she was visiting friends in Riace, Calabria, Italy.

I lived with my father and mother in Nigeria. When I was eight my father died and my mother married another man. He wanted to take advantage of me and he treated me badly. I did not want to stay there, so when I was ten I left there and I stayed with  some friends, Christian friends. At first it was OK. We went to school, but when I was thirteen, my friend, she was older than me, she started going with boys. Then she took me to a place where there were many boys  and they raped me. She took me many times, so I got pregnant. That’s why I don’t like making friends.

But then I met another girl, so she told me to call my mum. So I called her and my mum said: come home, and I gave birth to my baby there. She is called Blessing. That is because when I was pregnant I had an accident: while crossing the road a car hit me, so they had to take me to hospital. I was really bruised but I had an ultrasound and the baby was OK. I had Blessing when I was fourteen.

But then my stepfather decided to take my baby from me when she was four months old, because I had no money.  So I went to live with another woman. She made alcohol and I helped her, and many men came to drink there. But I was not comfortable because the men were looking at me anyhow. So I wanted to leave. And my friend said: lets travel and I said: I cannot travel because I have no money, how can I cope, I have no clothes, I have no means, I have no one. But my mother decided to borrow money, she got 300,000 Nigerian dollars, and my friend said: don’t worry after you travel you will meet Christian friends.

She said: I will take you somewhere you can meet people and they will help you and she took me to this park where there were many boys and girls and women and I got a bus to Agadez. But I had no idea where I was going and no one helped me. People are so wicked. I went to three countries with different buses, I don’t know which countries. But on the way to Sabratha (Libya) I was kidnapped. The bus took us to some people, some men with guns, who stopped us and took us off and put us in a container. And in there they were raping some girls, but I said I was pregnant, and they said OK and gave me some water. Then they told me I should ask someone to come and bail me and I said: but I don’t have any money. Then a girl helped me. She called her brother and he brought 200,000 for me and for her. They let both of us go, but we were not going in the same direction.

An Arab guy took me to Sabratha. I waited five days on the beach, without food because I had no money to buy it. So I begged and asked people to give me one dinar  to buy water.

Child's painting of boats on wave by James Vin Brown, age 16, from Guinea
Picture by James Vin Brown, age 16, from Guinea

And then I decided to go in the boat. And there is a big hole in the boat and the water is covering me and I am thinking I will die there. I am thinking what made me leave my country because everything is bad in the sea. You have nothing, you look at the sky and you look at the sea and there is nothing. And  we don’t have a captain or a driver, we are 150 people and I am in the middle and it is so hot. There is nothing to eat or drink and I am vomiting, but there is no toilet.

When the rescue came I was so happy. But the rescue ship was already full so they put us in the toilet. They gave me a shirt and a blanket to wrap myself. I spent two days on the rescue ship. Then I got to Italy and after I got here I said: God this is such a beautiful place. In Nigeria there is dirt and pain, but after I got here I was so happy. We don’t have lights in Nigeria but here everything is good. It’s perfect and nice.

They put us in a tent first. It was not so beautiful. Maria was in my tent. I made her my close friend. Then her sister came to take her and I asked if I could visit and I got permission. That’s why I am here. I stay in a centre for girls in another place. I am eighteen now I was seventeen when I arrived.

I miss Blessing. I would like her with me.


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