From Nigeria to Braga on a road of death, rape, desert, prison and sea

By TPN/Lusa, in News, Good News, Politics · 29-06-2021 18:00:00 · 6 Comments

Marvelhous left Nigeria and walked a path of death, rape, an abortion, prayers, desert, prison, sea and two children until she arrived in Braga and found the "light of hope for a happy future".

At 24, the open smile disguises the weight of the history that the young woman carries. She was given asylum, is learning Portuguese, is part of an internship programme for refugees in a Swedish multinational, "has food and a roof" for her children.

Her father died when Marvelhous was 18 and she had to leave school, she and two other sisters. An aunt took her to her house to work. Marvelhous liked her aunt, but not her uncle: "He would come and sleep with me when I was alone and I didn't want to. I said that if my aunt knew, she would kill me," she says.

She ran away from her uncle and an unwanted pregnancy, she had an abortion, "the only way out". She wandered the streets until she found comfort in a church, where she was approached by a man with promises to get her to Europe. She embarked on the journey that took her, with two other friends, first to a camp in Niger, where she met the father of her children, then to Libya, through the desert.

In Libya, she was arrested and discovered that she had been sold, but managed, with the help of her now-husband's family, to escape to face the ocean and Europe. She was pregnant with her daughter. The sea took the boat she was on back to Tripoli, back to prison. Another escape, another journey, now with an eight-month-old girl on her lap, another baby in her womb and without her husband.

"We had no money to cross both of us. I came with the children and he stayed there working, to make ends meet. When the sea ended, we arrived in Italy and went to a refugee camp. A year later, they told me I was coming to Portugal," she says.

She knew nothing about Portugal: "I didn't know the country. But if it was in Europe, it had to be better than Nigeria or Libya. When I arrived in Braga, I felt it was a place of friendly people. Here I found the light of hope to have a future and a happy future", she explains.

Marvelhous came to Portugal under a European Union refugee reception programme and was taken in by Adolescere, an association that works with people at risk and welcomes single female and refugee families.

Under the European Union Relocation Programme, Portugal was the 6th European country that took in the most refugees, receiving 1,550 people coming from Greece (1,190) and Italy (360), between December 2015 and April 2018 - and who were hosted in 97 municipalities.

"Marvelhous' family - her, her daughter and her son - was the first one we took in. We went to Lisbon to pick them up and the journey to Braga was quiet, the girl was very curious, she spent the whole trip glued to the glass," recalls Carla Fernandes, responsible for that association.

Adolescere has taken in eight families like Marvelhous: "The reception programme lasts 18 months. The objective is to design with these women a life project, which starts with learning Portuguese, integrating the children into school, medical follow-up and professional integration", she describes.

For each member of the household, the mothers receive 150 Euros, a sum that Adolescere's technicians teach them to manage, compare prices and make choices: "These are families that had nothing and the priorities are not yet clear," explains Carla Fernandes.

"What they want most is that their children go to school, that they learn Portuguese quickly, so that they can be someone in life. Their main concern is their children", she guarantees.

Marvelhous' words are proof of this: "I ran away so that I could live without fear. After my children were born, I no longer think about myself, only about them and their safety. I'm almost happy here," he admits. Almost? "Yes, I'm missing their father," she replies.



Latoysha, pull your head in and stop being such a damn bore.

By Christiaan from Porto on 30-06-2021 10:44

This is the result of living in a civilization rather than a traditional band. Nobody knows who to trust, and everyone is trying to get something from everyone else. There are a few people trying to help, but while you can help individuals, you can't fix the underlying flaw in the organization of society.

By Joel from USA on 30-06-2021 08:35

Enjoyed your comment Nina. You are true Portuguese. Latoysha (Portuguese name?) on the other hand comments quite frequently, giving her(?) locations as USA, UK, and various locations in Portugal, meaning you can't believe what she says. She is just a negative person.

By William from Other on 30-06-2021 08:02

Such a brave woman!
Unlike "John" and Ms Adams I don´t see propaganda and certainly not bitter.
@John Portugal is better of with concerning itself with "helping" all people in Portugal ( and those are clearly not only and always Portuguese).@Miss Adams if you are really from USA what concern you have whether Portugal is being "invaded" and "sold out" by the EU? As a US citizen you clearly should have more and bigger problems to address in your own "United States"? Talking about "being invaded" aren´t it the Americans and British who are "guilty" of this? "invading" the Algarve and soon also Madeira and the Azores?

By Nina from Lisbon on 30-06-2021 03:25

Yup, agreed. This is propaganda. Portugal has one of the highest taxes in Europe, low income, and yet we'd supposed to be super proud of this. Let Portugal concern itself with helping the Portuguese.

By John from Lisbon on 29-06-2021 11:18

Who writes this nonsense? Your country is being invaded and sold out by the EU, and you pat yourselves on the back for being virtuous. 100% propaganda

By Latoysha Adams from USA on 29-06-2021 06:56
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