An Empty Promise

''I wish people would realize that we all have the same blood running through our veins'', says Mary, who has left Nigeria for Italy. A video made by the organization PositiveNegatives talks about her story.

''We are all going to leave this world. You are not going to take anything with you. Even the coffin you are buried in will turn to dust'', a narrating voice says. Mary is a migrant from Nigeria who left for Europe in the belief that it would a short and easy journey. The reality she encountered was very different. 

Her story is told in the animated video called "An Empty Promise", meant to raise awareness on the abuse and difficulties endured by migrants in their attempt to reach Europe.The initiative was developed by non-profit organization PositiveNegatives which has been working for years on cartoons focusing on human rights, presenting data, research and witness accounts. 

The hope of a false promise 

"We were all promised a short journey which would lead us to a new life in Europe", Mary's narrating voice says in the video. "The truth was very different", explains the migrant, who currently lives in Sicily. Mary grew up in the village of Ukwani, her father left when she was very young and her mother remarried and went on to have six more children. "I felt like I didn't belong", she explained. 

Mary tried to earn money and survive in Nigeria while many friends left. "One day my friend introduced me to a man called John''. She said the man promised to help her reach Italy, where he said she could earn a lot of money and study. "For the first time, I felt hopeful'". 

Sexual abuse, beatings

Mary gave her documents to John and promised to pay him 25,000 Nigerian nairas (roughly 60 euros) when she would start making money in Italy. The promise of a short trip proved false. When she reached the Libyan desert, Mary says she was forced to climb on a truck carrying watermelons that was so full that ''many suffocated''.When they reached Quatrun, John left and Mary was held for three months there. 

''Girls were chosen at random for sex work and boys worked all day without food''. Mary says in the video that she saw a boy beaten to death after he tried to flee. From Quatrun she was transferred to Sabha: ''We were given to men who raped and killed without thought. They were heartless''. 

After three weeks, Mary was taken with other migrants to Bani Walid, Libya, where living conditions were terrible. "Listening to the stories of others helped me to forget my problems. Sometimes we would sing together". 

"I feel like I don't belong"

Then the time came for her to board a rubber dinghy that was left drifting in the sea. The migrants were rescued by an Italian vessel. Mary now lives in Sicily and is waiting for the documents that will enable her to get a job. "I wish I could keep busy to take my mind away from that awful journey. Still, I feel like I don't belong", she said. ''I wish people would realize that we all have the same blood running through our veins''. (An image from the video ''An Empty Promise''. Credit: PositiveNegatives)