Cedric is now homeless in Zhytomyr, a city west of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital | Photo: Pixabay
Cedric is now homeless in Zhytomyr, a city west of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital | Photo: Pixabay

Cedric dreamed of reaching Germany to escape poverty in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. The young man contacted a travel agency to obtain a student visa for Ukraine and, from there, hoped to get to Germany. But nothing went as planned. Stranded in Ukraine, he has lost everything.

"I am from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It was difficult to live there, so I thought of going to Germany. I saw on the Internet that there was a travel agency that sent people. I went there and said I needed to go to Germany. I was told: 'We will help you to go there but you will have to go through the Ukraine'. The agency told me that from Ukraine I could just take a bus to Germany. I believed them but I was lied to. I was tricked and now I am stuck here.

I was able to get to Ukraine thanks to a letter of invitation from the Ukrainian-American Concordia University that I obtained through the agency and a man who is the intermediary with the university.

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When I arrived in Kiev from Istanbul on October 18, this man came to pick me up at the airport. He was also a Congolese. We went to the hotel together and there he asked me to give him my money -- $2,000 in all -- and my invitation letter to the university. The agency told me I could trust him, so I gave it to him. I haven't heard from him since and his phone number doesn't answer anymore.

Losing all my money might kill me. To pay for my trip and my university fees, I sold the piece of land that my father, who died, had left me in Kinshasa. I have nothing left. I left the DRC to escape poverty. My mother died when I was nine years old and my father was paralyzed, so I lived with my mother's family. I left the country to escape the poverty, nobody can help me there. I just have a sister left and she was counting on me to support her financially.

'I beg so I can eat'

After my money was stolen, I contacted the travel agency to tell them what happened. They tried to put pressure on the man, but to no avail because he had already changed his phone number. Since I was staying in a hotel, I had to pay for my room every day. It was complicated.

After two days I had to leave the hotel and now I am homeless. I am not in Kiev anymore but in Zhytomyr (a city west of the Ukrainian capital Kiev). I went there because the travel agency told me that the man who took my money was there. But I haven't managed to find him. I sleep in a park and often I go to the church to warm up during the day. When I left the hotel, with the little money I had left, I bought things to protect myself from the cold. I have to beg so I can eat. But sometimes I stay several days without food.

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I wanted to go to Germany because I got the impression that it is a good country according to the stories I heard. Asking for asylum in Germany is my only solution because now I am in an undocumented situation here in Ukraine, my visa has expired. In the end, I never went to university. I don't know anything here."