J. from Kinshasa, Congo, is 17 years old. She gave birth 6 months ago. She arrived in Greece on foot, while she was pregnant. Someone had raped her in Turkey. She traveled alone. A victim of gender-based violence, she ran away from home to escape a forced marriage to a man of her father’s age.
“I left Congo because of my father, he was very mean to me, he wanted to marry me with a man older than me. This man was as old as my father. (My father) didn’t want me at home anymore, he was beating me. He beat me every day, he didn’t let me go to school, sometimes he didn’t let me even eat. My mother told me that I must leave because if this situation continues it will hurt me. One day my father tried to set the house on fire… My mother told me that I should go to Turkey because it is cheaper there and she could pay for my ticket. “I don’t have enough money now to leave together, but one day I will come and find you” she promised. I was waiting for her every day... but I lost the contact with her. I lost my phone, so to this day that I am here, I have no contact with her. (..)
In Turkey I didn’t know anyone, the people who came to pick me up from the airport took me to a house. There, a man raped me. After the rape, he disappeared. One day the owner of the house came and kicked us all out. When this happened, I started sleeping on the streets, I had nowhere to go, I was sleeping in the park. During the day, I was looking for food and at night I was sleeping in the park. One day, I met a woman from Cameroon who suggested me to work in the restaurant where she was also working. To do the wishes, to clean… and she also said that I would be able to sleep in the restaurant. So, I was working during the day and at night, I was sleeping in the restaurant. One day, this woman told me that she decided to leave Turkey and travel. I asked her “where are you going to travel?”, she said “to Greece”. I ask her “What is Greece?”. “It’s a country where we normally should cross the water to get there, but now, we don’t have to do that, we’ll go on foot”. I told her that I have no money and she said that she will support me. She did it because I was completely alone. (..)
We were traveling for a very long time, a month and a half, I didn’t know I was pregnant, there were too many people, Syrians, Congolese, Cameroonians, too many people.. We were walking, being exposed to cold and wet weather.. we were sleeping in the forest. One day we arrived “here“. I don’t even know where “here” is. The woman told me that she would continue the journey, but she couldn’t take me with her, because she did not have enough money. But she told me that I could stay here and that it would be fine. She left me in a house where there were many people. One day, they started asking for money for accommodation and food. I told them I have nothing, and they kicked me out. I started sleeping outside again. I didn’t know where the parks were exactly, but wherever I found a park, I stayed. There, I met another woman who helped me – she gave me a phone number to call a social service and ask for help.”
- is one of the thousands of unaccompanied children who arrived in Greece and were helped by non-governmental organizations. J. is now in a safe environment, where she lives with her baby, and is trying, with a lot of support and care, to get back on her feet and start a new life.
“First they took me to another organization, I have been here since June 2022… since I was 5 months pregnant. Since the day I came here, they have helped me a lot, they took me to the hospital, they gave me clothes, they gave me food, I am fine here. I take care of the baby, we sleep, we play… I want to start school, but first I will start lessons in Greek language. I want to find a job, take care of my child. I would like to leave a message, some advice to the girls traveling alone… to travel in the most legal way, not the way I came, because they are in danger. I have suffered rape, if my child asks me about her father, what will I tell her? (..) Women give life to the world. They bring life. While men make them suffer. Like my father, who made my mother suffer…”