After going through the most difficult chapters of my life as an illegal immigrant in Rome, by sleeping at the central train station, I worked as a house boy serving an Italian journalist. I was able to save some money as illegal immigrant, because, the Romans like tax evasion, which of course never improved my situation to be documented. I therefore shifted camp to Amsterdam.
In Amsterdam, I lived in a notorious neighborhood called Bijlmer, known for drug and arm trafficking. It’s a home for illegal immigrants. The blocks had ten floors. On many occasions illegal immigrants resisting police arrest jumped to their death. The news of Bijlmer never ceased appearing in newspapers. Investigations revealed that as low as 200 Euros could get one a gun, crime in Bijlmer therefore was abnormal.
The man I lived with at Bijlmer, deals in fake European and American passports. I was scared to death. Within three days through a pastor of a church I was attending, I relocated. A week after leaving the place, police invaded the apartment of the fake passport dealer and arrested everyone. It was the biggest news in Holland. Those arrested were jailed five years each. I escaped my first jail sentence.
Holland is a country which has sent many illegal immigrants to Africa. Many of the illegal immigrants deported were caught on train, trams or metro without tickets. Some were caught riding on stolen bicycles. I wasn’t ready for deportation. To prevent deportation, I went on foot to any place in Amsterdam. Some of my journeys were long and tedious. Some could take me between two to three hours. On many occasions I picked up broken parts of bicycles from the bush or road side, brought them home to fix them.
Despite all my efforts to steer away from crime, I thought I was free but I wasn’t. After four and a half years in Amsterdam Bijlmer, I was still illegal. I met a lady who promised to help me get my papers. She took over five thousand dollars from me. Unknowing she was a criminal preying on illegal immigrants. When the immigration police invited us for my documents, I was arrested and thrown behind bars.
The woman knew I will be deported, because that was what had happened to all her victims. The police told me who she was. She has never been jailed for her previous crimes; she therefore never ceased to prey on innocent victims. Behind bars, my deportation to Africa was very close. I was given three square meals daily and shower once a day. But one day something wrong happened to me. No shower and I weren’t fed for the whole day. Instead of protesting, I was quiet till the next day. When I was served food the next day, I asked them why they did that to me the previous day. The officer who thought I was joking, later found out that I was speaking the truth.
According to him I was very quiet so the officers on duty failed to realize that someone was in the cells. Because of this particular error they made, they handed back my passport to me and set me free. “Whatever I went through as illegal immigrant in Europe, sleeping at the central train station in Rome, detention in Amsterdam and what I’ve seen in my life had made me what I am today. I am now a Belgium national living in Antwerp, with my wife and three children.”
The full story is now published in the book “Overseas Chronicle-The Rome and Amsterdam Experience. Available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com.
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