Family life: Biba Souley, 35 years old, is a single mother of five children and lives in Tillabery region. She and her kids live with her brother, sister-in-law and their children. She speaks Hausa, Zerma and basic Arabic.
Work journey: Biba went to the madrasa but could never attend any school. Her parents were farmers but the 2010 drought had left them with nothing. Her parents could not afford an education for her, the opportunity cost was too high. She did odd jobs as a little girl to earn a few francs and bring it to her parents but after getting married at the age of 16 as well as having kids of her own, Biba wanted them to go to school and have good jobs. To make all this possible, she knew she would have to follow her husband to Libya where all the jobs were. Biba says, “no mother wants to leave her children behind, but I had to at the age of 25” to cross the risky Sahara Desert by herself in a small car crammed with 20 people. The journey of 2 months and 5 days to Libya was very harsh with days of no food and less water. At one point, she didn’t think that she would survive but with the help of two helpful women by her side she made it to the border. In Libya, Biba lived with her husband for 9 years and worked as a chef for all the workers in the machine factory where he worked. Her dream of a better life was overshadowed by experiences of racism in everyday life. When the war broke out, then she had to return back because the situation exacerbated. Militants attacked their house, threatened to kill her husband and stole their belongings. Having survived this, they fled back to Niger to treasure safety.
Hope: Social welfare is Biba’s hope from her country because she has experienced some being partially favored while others being marginalized from job opportunities. She says, “all I am asking for is an equal and fair chance for everyone”. During the digital media workshop, she learned skills such as storytelling, public speaking, radio programming, video and social media to share her personal story of survival. Through sessions of art therapy she learned how to draw strength from her traumatic past and transform it in productive ways. Within a week, Biba was able to share the story of her journey in Libya with confidence on different channels. Ultimately, Biba was invited by a local radio station to air her story and share her experience with community members, further creating awareness about the dangers of migration. She expressed her current goal as “creating videos to teach people in her community on how to share their stories and sensitize youth so they can find their inner strength to stay in Niger and work for the betterment of their country”.