My name is Sangha Dia, in Algarrobo they know me as Dicke. I was born in Medina Dakar, a small village in the northern part of Senegal known as Louga There most of the families are dedicated to working the land: the children do a little bit of everything according to their possibilities; the women are more dedicated to household chores, although they also help in agricultural work; and men carry out tasks of higher physical performance. We farm to eat and if there is anything left over, we sell it to buy other goods that we cannot produce.
When I was 34, I met Daour, my wife. We soon became parents of Fatou and Sini, and we expected a better life for our daughters. We were aware of the risks we might take in a boat trip to Europe, but we felt it was worth trying. People tend to think that the riskiest part of such a journey is crossing the “salt border” but previously we must face months, in my case 8, living very badly in Morocco until we get the chance of crossing the Strait of Gibraltar. During the time I spent in Tanger, I could survive thanks to locals’ charity, as there was no chance to get a job or a house.
My first attempt to cross the Strait failed, as the mafias swindled me out of everything I had at the time. At last, in summer 2004, I reached the coast of Barbate (Cadiz). We were picked up by the Red Cross on the beach and for 21 days I stayed in a camp for illegal immigrants. Once in Spain, if you do not have papers, the government requires you to stay 3 years in the country to regularize your situation; it is achieved through a pre-contract signed with an employer, full time for at least one year, which is practically impossible for someone who does not know the culture and language of the country, and also has no papers. I traveled to Algarrobo in search of my cousin Mamadú, who took me into his home. I quickly started working as a street vendor selling music CDs and DVDs; my family needed money. This is the most visible job for Senegalese arriving in Spain, but it has its risks: jail. I ended up there for 8 months.
When they released me I understood I had to get involved with the country, learn the language and getting jobs that would offer me new opportunities. The first step was contacting with the NGO Málaga Acoge; they offer the opportunity to achieve rights for immigrants without papers, like me. That's where I met Pedro, my friend and partner. He has always lived linked to social action; his Spanish classes were much more than grammar and vocabulary, because in his way of teaching us there was understanding, empathy and commitment to help. I don't know how it happened, but Pedro decided to go one step further to support me. He gave me a job in his vegetable garden, and involved his son (also Pedro) so that a company would offer me a formal contract that would give me the option of obtaining residency.
After 11 years as an undocumented immigrant, thanks to my Spanish family, and especially to Pedro (junior) for his great knowledge and awareness of the situation in my region of origin, I became a citizen with rights, work and a future for my family. They still live in Senegal, and my dream is to acquire in Spain enough knowledge and resources to develop my own projects in my land, and thus achieve a better life in our country, I hope you can join me in this adventure!
Today, I am partner of Pedro (senior) in the production of organic sweet potato, potato, and mango, I work hand in hand with Pedro (junior), and I collaborate with the nearby tropical farms owned by other friends in the area.