Adam loves writing stories. It was mainly at his request that the Migrant Workers Task Force decided to set up a weekly writing workshop at its base of operations in Zico House’s backyard. Contrary to the highly volatile assiduity that characterizes the English lessons, Adam has rarely missed a class. To this date, he has authored two short stories: Raya and the Brave Man and The Innocent Child, both set “in a small village, in a southern state in Sudan”. His next destination takes him to the more technical –and, surely less fascinating- world of summaries. It’s now Adam’s turn to speak…
How was your childhood?
I was born in Sudan in the middle of the Jazeera state, north of Khartoum. I studied primary and secondary school in the big village where I was born and, then, I went to study economics at the university in Khartoum, but I couldn’t continue more than one month.
Why did you stop studying?
Because of financial problems. My father was sick; my older brother was busy because he was a farmer, so there was nobody to help my father. I worked for three years and then I went back to my studies. But I didn’t have a second opportunity to continue my education at university. Then I went to WMCI, a language center in Khartoum. I was there until to 2009, when I completed the Advanced level. English is an international language and everybody must learn it. Since school I thought I had to learn it but, unfortunately I didn’t have good teachers.
Why did you decide to emigrate? Which were the main factors that pushed you to do it?
The situation, the difficult situation of the country. Most people from villages leave to help their families, looking for their economic welfare. Unemployment is an issue, people in Sudan cannot find a job in companies or government without a mediator, even if they have good educational qualifications.
Was there a particular moment when you decided to leave? Was there a situation that made you take the decision?
I never wanted to emigrate, I wanted to stay near my family and help them. No question with that. But the situation pushed me to unwillingly emigrate. When I took the decision, I told my older brother, who backed me. By migrating, I am looking only for one aim: I want to help my family, help my younger brothers and sisters to complete their education, because education is very expensive in Sudan.
I had one of my brothers who was here and told me to come, that he would help me to find a job.
Have you been always working in the same place or you have kept on changing jobs?
No, I have changed. First I worked in a bakery, but it was a long shift – I had to work 12 hours and I was only paid 300 dollars. Then I worked in a motorcycle company for one month and a half. Afterwards, I started working in a supermarket, because I understood this business. I had had more than ten years of experience in this field in Sudan. But I stopped because I wanted to earn more. Now I work in a clothes shop from 9:30 to 7:30 and, in the evening, in a restaurant from 8 to 2. Then I sleep for four hours and then back to work.
What are the major difficulties that you face as a migrant worker here in Lebanon?
I don’t want to say that the treatment here is bad. But there’s something wrong: many Lebanese seem to have never heard about human rights. They treat immigrant people like animals. But in my work if there is somebody treating me badly I stop and leave that work immediately, even if they don’t pay me what they owe me. In the motorcycle garage I was promised that they were going to pay me weekly. But after 10 days he said that he didn’t want to pay me. So I said bye. I didn’t even ask for the money again. But I think that in Sudan there’s more discrimination than in Lebanon. In my village, most families are Arab, while my family came from Darfur, from a non-Arab tribe. It was difficult sometimes.
Are you planning to go back to Sudan anytime soon? When do you think you are going to be able to go back?
I think of going back every day. I can do my life in the country more freely. Here if u stop for one week it’s difficult, because life here is expensive. But for now, all that I am thinking in is in helping my brothers in their education. Every month I send them 2000 dollars.
Interviewed by Jon Martin Cullell.