April 2, 2017(BOR) - When Lual Chol left Sudan for Libya, he did not know where he would find a good place to make a living, and after a long journey in the wilderness and seas, he found himself in Italy through, a trip during which hundreds of his colleagues perished.
- Lual Chol who lost all his machines during the December 2013 crisis, March 2, 2017 (ST)
Chol, now 55, left southern Sudan for Khartoum in 1974, at the age of 12 hoping to get better education and better life.
To his dismay, when southerners were seen as bad people by Arabs in the north, Chol spent close to 22 years without a job, or a place to live in. The idea of getting a wife was also far away from his priorities, which included getting a good job and better education.
Years came and passed, but nothing changed in his life, so he decided to take a risky journey to join thousands of other people from all over Africa and Asia who were equally desperate like him.
In 1996, he left Khartoum, through the desert to Libya. He did not carry a national identification card or a passport that identified him, only to arrested and jailed in Libya for weeks, but was later released.
“In the prison, I met so many people who had been in that prison for years. Each had a different story from another, but all attempted to sneaked into Libya to make their living. During investigation, I was asked if I knew anyone in Tripoli that could take me to his home. I was lucky I knew one person, but I did not know where he was living, so the police got him for me, and I was released”, recalls Chol.
While in Libya, Chol tried to get a job but was in vain. He decided to practice kitchen job by voluntarily washing plates in one of the local hotels in reward for free meal. He perfected his business there, and developed the fashion of hotel catering there. He was later paid little money on top of his free meal on daily basis. He spent five years on this business, till he acquired more than $1,000.
One night, Chol decided to take another risky journey, by escaping to the Libyan coast where he would get a boat to ferry him to Europe. He had learned about so many people who were reported dead in the water and many others who reached safely. He knew it was like a flip of the coin that has two outcomes, head or the tail, which means death or life. He was knew he would be rich in Italy.
“Crossing the sea was the biggest problem. The waves were strong and high up, and any boat that tries to cross can easily sink. I had to pray to God to open my way. One Night, I took a bus to the coast. I waited for two days before I got into a boat. 2,000 people were on board with me. We all had no identifications because if you have one, you can be deported to your country once caught”, Chol said.
LIFE IN ITALY
When he reached in Italy in January 2000, Chol and thousands of other of other migrants were received as refugees, but not permitted to work. However, after five years, he was given a residential and a work permit. But still, work was not easy to get. He did not speak Italian or English. He searched several places in Rome for any job.
Luck later on smiled at Chol. This was after he learnt of a tourist hotel in Butera in Caltanissetta province in southern part of the islands of Sicily. He decided to meet the hotel manager who employed him to wash plates, and other utensils, the job he did perfectly. After few months, he was employed as assistance cook in the hotel; a promotion which earned him 35 Euros an hour from 2006 to 2013.
“In a month, I could save up to 400 Euros, after paying electricity, water and laundry, among others. By 2013, I had more than 20, 00 Euros”, he happily tells Sudan Tribune.
ON RETURNING TO SOUTH SUDAN
In November 2013, Chol opted to return to Juba, a city he left for more than 30 years, to start his business. Using the money he saved, Chol purchased sophisticated machines and generators and shipped them to South Sudan.
However, while in Juba, trying to find where he could set up his business, war broke out and all the machines be bought were stolen.
“I had four generators, of 80 KVA each, and other big machines which I bought to use in my business. I lost them all during the crisis. I had no money to return to Italy either”, he sadly narrated.
Chol is back in Duk, his home village, which he left in 1974, and now lives a desperate life. At the age of 55, he has no wife and no child.
Sadly, as well, his Italian visa, work permits and all the other relevant documents he possessed have now expired, and he has no means of traveling to Nairobi where there are possibilities of renewing them.
“If I get money, I would move to Nairobi to renew them”, he says, while appealing to the Italian government to provide him assistance.