Today’s adventure of “I come from” is once again the product of cross translation between Arabic, English and German. Thus, I will write the story out in a way that makes some sense to people living in the freedom of the west, who will probably think it is a made up fantasy.
Bakit was born in Eritrea and his life was ok until he said something bad against the government during a political crisis. The idea of Innocent until proven guilty is not something that many countries in the world are proponents of, so guilty until proven innocent is how much of the world works.
Bakit was put in prison.
After a year, he didn’t want to be there anymore, so he made plans to get up and leave the prison.
There might be a reason why it was not difficult to get away from the prison, as Bakit told me, “We have a lot of Kalashnikov’s and many bullets in Eretria. If they catch you, there are three choices.”
The first “choice” is that they simply would slit your throat
The second “choice” is that they would simply use some of the bullets and the Kalashnikovs for target practice, of which “you” were the target.
The last “choice” if caught was that you would be put into the “tunnel” underground where they, “simply leave you there with no light, no food, and you sit in your diarrhea and pray to die.”
I asked, “So how did you get to Switzerland? With all the great choices? Weren’t you scared?”
Bakit smiled and replied, “I was terrified.”
For 30 nights Bakit ran through the dessert in the dark to avoid detection to get to the Sudan border. From Sudan, he got on a plane to turkey, where he then walked to Greece…. we won’t go into much detail about this part of the journey, as it reminded me of many tales I have heard from people in central and Latin America who came into the USA, not necessarily to live, but to find work to send money home.
I don’t think Bakit will ever go back to his home country. When he got to Switzerland he says, “it was amazing, I felt safe. I felt free.”
I don’t know how much those words mean to most of us who have grown up in a world that everything is relatively nice?
We tend to take for granted the words and meaning of, “We are safe. We are free.”