Voices on the Move

Hargesia. Photo: Pooja Bhalla
August 14, 2012 Written by: Pooja Bhalla

“..my mind is out of control and I do not feel anything anymore...”

Tigist Legsse has been living in Hargesia since 1991 when she fled from Ethiopia with her husband following the collapse of the Megistu regime. She is a 40 year old widow of Ogadeni ethnicity.

Riches to rags
“My husband was in the Megistu’s army. When they were thrown out we fled here, we were afraid that the new rulers would kill him (husband). We left everything and came...we had a lot of nice things then. He died here leaving me alone with my children. It was very hard to be in a strange country without him

First when we came we were staying at Biyo (refugee camp) with many other Ethiopians. But then they closed it and threw us out, the government here and the UN …they cancelled everything…just one day everything gone. Now I live here with some other Ethiopian people.  We have very little to eat and nobody was helping us. Sometimes I work as a maid to get little money. My children, they have never been to school. The older two, sometimes they find work digging toilets or to collect rubbish from Somali people’s houses. It is not good…their father was an officer in a great army…I had good clothes then, and now these boys do this dirty work. Sometimes I see them crying but what to do. If you are not Somali you get bad work and bad money.” 

The September 2011 deportation announcement
“Some months before my son he told me one day that the rulers here want to kick us out. They said all Ethiopians must leave or they will drag us out if we have no papers. He said we must go and put our names with the rulers and the UN so I listened to him. But what good?  Still no food and no hope. They will throw us out even if papers are there…it is their country.”

Resigned to fate
“I left my country twenty years ago...my mind is out of control and I do not feel anything anymore...just get up do my work try to find food ,eat and sleep. I do not know what is happening around me.......I cannot go back as there is no work in Ethiopia ... I don’t even know how to go back .We just think how to survive daily we do not think about tomorrow until the night.”

Contact Us

Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat
DRC East Africa & Great Lakes
Lower Kabete Road
(Ngecha Road Junction)
P.O.Box 14762, 00800
Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 709867 000


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