Eva’s Story | Part 2 of 3

Eva’s Story | Part 2 of 3

Posted on in Africa, Refugees, United Nations, Urban Refugees.


My name is Evariste Emmanuel. My friends call me Eva. I work for Seek the Peace. This is my story.

(Missed the first part of Eva’s story? Read it here.)

THE CAMP

I traveled to the refugee camp with my brother. Once we got there, we thought, “Here we go again.” There was a lot of suffering. That was the time that I was hopeless. Once you’re a refugee, you’re nothing. There’s no value. You never accomplish anything. People say, “You should have died in your country, so even to be here you’re lucky.” And you hear that and you’re like, what’s the difference? It’s like even an animal can have more value than you.

They give you a certain amount of food every 15 days. They give you beans in a cup about the size a 20-oz coffee cup. They also give you salt, flour, and maize.  That was given twice a month. And the food is given by size—it doesn’t matter whether you’re one month or 30 years old – they just give it by size.  You have to manage for 15 days. If you don’t, you die. That’s why they call refugee life “survival.” Once you go to collect those foods, guess what – it isn’t just you. Our camp had probably 5,000-10,000 refugees, so you had to make lines. There were lines everywhere. We would have to wait, but if you moved a little bit, they would beat you like an animal. Even though they beat you, you don’t get out of line. You need that food. You need it so bad. You’ll take anything to get food.

You get 20 liters of water every day, if you are single. You’ve got to take your shower, cook, with those 20 liters a day. To cook, they give you wood, and you make your own fire with a big stone.

There were all kinds of dangerous things there – scorpions, snakes, a lot of stealing. All of the village guys that live close to the camp lock all of their things. People don’t just steal empty-handed; they steal with a gun. Once you have the little things you have, you hold them. You don’t want anybody to see them.

I was with my brother the whole time, and he was always depressed. Once he’s depressed, he doesn’t talk, doesn’t share; he shuts it all off. That’s really bad. But it wasn’t just my brother. All of us – because of losing everything – we created something within ourselves: hatred. You start hating. You stop complaining, but you still have the pain – so guess what, you start hating.

So I lived that life as an orphan. Sometimes you get a little frightened. People might threaten you because you don’t have anybody to look up to. People who are not with you can say a lot of words. You feel like you are very hopeless. You feel like, “Hey, if death is there, I’m ready.” Sometimes you cry, you cry until you’re tired. And then you just start asking God every day to kill you. You cannot kill yourself – I was taught a long time ago that if you kill yourself, you go to hell. But you think, if death is there, I don’t really care.

We lived in the camp for 7 years. Every year people would migrate to the United States, Canada, Australia – you name it. The countries all have different criteria. UNHCR would tell you the requirements. If you meet some of the requirements, they would see your case and see if they can help you out. At one point, they were looking for orphans. I was an orphan. The UNHCR called me to screen me—to make sure it was really me. Then they sent our case to the United States immigrations. It’s a process to approve whether they’ll give you a visa or not.

 When they told me I might get sent to the United States, it was a really, really exciting moment for me. It would give me another day, another hope. There was a hope that I might become someone else. That was overwhelming, so exciting. But still, I had the pain in me, because the thing that I missed my whole life was love. That’s what affected me the most.

More to come…