Is it simply someone who has escaped death? Who should have died and miraculously remained among the living? Or is it more complicated than that?
At Limbo, we know that surviving is an exceptional episode in the life of a man or woman. There is always a before and an after. Man is no longer the same after escaping an accident, a fire, a shipwreck. History is full of stories and testimonies of survivors who were never able to resume a normal life, had lost their peace of mind, their lightness, their certainty.
In memory, the eternal pain of the survivors of the death camps.
We live, work, love, because we have within us a "feeling of eternity". When they meet their death for the first time, the "survivors" have lost this certainty. And they are convinced that death, omnipresent, can strike them at any moment.
Survivors have often experienced Hell. The real one. That of crossing deserts and seas, that of Libya, the extent of which is just beginning to be measured. For years, voices, including those of Limbo, have been trying to alert public opinion to the appalling nature of the fate of migrants in this country. As soon as they set foot in this country, an exiled person is no longer a human being, but something that has to pay for their mere presence. Men, women and sometimes children are beaten, ransomed, looted and raped. A migrant is not allowed to look a Libyan in the eye, is subjected to insults, humiliation and beatings. He works without being paid, serves as cannon fodder for the militias, is bought, sold, resold. The recent television images that have alerted the world are pale illustrations of reality. In the hundreds of torture camps that exist in the country, the images of dead, mutilated humans, their bodies covered with wounds, recall the worst memories of the concentration camp world. Libya is not a country, it is a nightmare.
Rape, torture, death, the slave trade and the slave market are the reality of survivors.
WHAT IS A SURVIVOR IN EUROPE?
One might think that the arrival in Europe marks the end of the tragedy. The ultimate goal of their long journeys, whether they come from Eritrea or Sudan, Nigeria or Somalia, Afghanistan or Syria, Africa or Asia. After months, often years of wandering and suffering, they have sometimes managed to obtain asylum, papers, safe housing, access to education, even a job... The Holy Grail.
There are young people exiled in Sweden, in increasing numbers, whose suicide is reported in the press with astonishment. There is the young African woman on trial, desperate and guilty in the courtroom, accused of having abandoned her baby in the snow, the result of a rape in Libya. There are these young men or women who are found wandering in the streets, lost ghosts, ready for any kind of violence, against others or against themselves. At Limbo, we know these dramatic cases. And also the deep difficulties, the depression, the despondency, the pain of those who capsize without making a sound.
Why is this?
The answer is in their eyes. What they have been through. The loved ones they have lost, brothers, fathers, mothers, sons, children or close friends. The hole they carry inside them and never closed. Survivors who never came back. Their bodies, yes; their minds, no. This is what we call TRAUMA. The one that kills you long after the horror you have experienced.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
What we must not do is leave them alone, in despair. And Limbo, thanks to its experts on the subject, its activists, its volunteers, has the means to identify migrants in psychological distress. They want to live but can no longer manage, work without having the strength to do so... At the end of the road, there is defeat.
But these survivors are here. And they must now live with us. And we must - and can - teach them how to live again. They are often young men, full of energy and will, sometimes with talent. And they are eager to express it.
WHAT WE DO
Limbo organises work sessions during the different holiday periods of the year. Psychological help, group work, manual and cultural activities (see details on this site), we have already achieved spectacular results. In one or even two stays, we have been able to reconnect with young men and women and give them a taste for life and work that they might have thought they had lost.
Helping them is a question of humanity, citizenship, security and public health. The affirmation of our own humanity.
At Limbo, this is what we believe.