#Stranded | Joseph

(Ελληνικά) Giorgos Moutafis for SolidarityNow

Joseph Takougang, 45 years-old, 8 months in Lesvos

 “At least in prison, you’ve got hot water and can take a bath”

“My name is Joseph Takougang and I am 45 years-old. I have been living in Moria for 8 months and 2 weeks. I left Cameroon because I had problems with the police and the government. The police were arresting and killing people. They arrested me too, along with my brother and a friend of mine. I was in prison for six days. They hit me, tortured me. I was a quite popular footballer. We all managed to escape, but the police killed my brother and my friend. Having no other choice, I left my country and went to Russia. It was 2001 and I was 28 years-old. I took Russian language classes and studied economics for 4 years. But I didn’t have enough money to finish my studies, so I started teaching football to children.

My wife and daughter went to Italy, where they stayed with relatives. It was easier for me to get a visa and go to Russia. When I heard that people were coming to Europe, I decided to go to Italy and find my daughter. First, I went to Turkey. I stayed there for 9 months. It is very difficult to find a job in Turkey. I worked for a month there, but things were very difficult. It is hard for me to stand for a long time, because of an injury I had on my leg. At my job in Turkey, I had to stand all day, from 8 in the morning until 8 in the evening. I tried many times to come to Greece. Eight of them I was arrested, but I managed to cross over the 9th time. I have been in Lesvos since June 2nd.

Life in Moria is bad, very bad. The food is not good, the toilets are dirty and far away from our tents. There are many problems and a lot of disappointment. People are losing it. I am a strong man, I was an athlete, so I am trying to stay alive. But it is not always easy.

I live in a summer tent with 6 men. Four men from Cameroon, one from Bangui (Central African Republic) and one from Syria. With the guy from Syria, we became friends. He is a nice person. He asked me to live in our tent. We make bracelets together out of life vests people were wearing when they came here.

I met Madeleine in Moria. She was crying very much. I tried to support her. I told her that things here are better, and human rights are respected. As for me, I have been through so much in Russia. I have experienced racist behaviour. I have seen all these before. I don’t know if I lost my hope. My asylum application was rejected, and my lawyer tells me nothing. I call him, but he doesn’t pick up the phone. So, I decided to keep living here, and whatever happens, happens.

I have been communicating with my family this whole time. My wish is to see my daughter. I don’t know how she is, she has a son, my grandson. I am a grandfather. I want to be a football coach because I love football. These are my dreams.

I have seen so many bad things happening in Moria. I don’t wish for anyone to stay here. I hope everyone moves. It is very hard, but we don’t have a choice, we cannot decide our fate. If the Greek government and the European Union decides to keep people here for much longer, it would be horrible. You have to be tough to live in Moria. It is better to be in prison than be here. At least in prison, you’ve got hot water and can take a bath. I don’t wish for anyone to stay here. I need to find a way to leave and start a new life”.