A story for christmas
Reconnecting with Raissa and her baby, rescued by the ALAN KURDI two years ago
Raissa, a refugee from Cameroon, was rescued from a dinghy in distress in the Mediterranean sea by Sea-Eye crew. She was in her last trimester of pregnancy, and when the crew pulled her out of the water, she was unconscious and unable to walk or talk. Eventually, she recovered, and gave birth to a healthy baby girl after she disembarked. Read about her story and help save more refugees’ lives.
Raissa* has fled war, violence, assault and abuse in her home country of Cameroon. But her harrowing journey to Europe was equally perilous: as a single, vulnerable refugee woman, she was a victim of maltreatment by smugglers and ended up forcibly imprisoned in a Libyan detention center as she was trying to flee. She was held captive and abused for over a year.
“I fled the chaos of war and violence, and I was so stressed out that I barely knew where I was going,” Raissa told us.
Tortured, beaten up, malnourished and confused, Raissa found out that she was pregnant. During an airstrike, frequent in war-torn Libya, Raissa managed to escape the detention center. A local man who saw that she was pregnant took pity on her and helped her embark on a dinghy bound for Europe.
But Raissa’s unseaworthy dinghy began to capsize only 24 hours into their journey, with dozens of other people on board. If the ALAN KURDI hadn’t come to their rescue, all of the passengers might have died.
“I was so sick, confused and hurt that I didn’t know what was happening to me, and I lost consciousness when the ALAN KURDI rescued me,” Raissa told us.
When she recovered, Raissa had only one hope: to build a decent life for her unborn child and find a place free from violence and abuse.
Vera, a volunteer nurse aboard the ALAN KURDI, recalled that when Raissa was rescued, she was 8 months pregnant, fading in and out of consciousness, and shaking heavily.
“Later, when she started to feel better, she started hugging me and kept on calling me ‘Mama Vera’. I was incredibly touched by this and it was a great honor to me,” Vera said.
Sophie, another volunteer aboard the ship, remembered that Raissa always helped to take care of the other children on board.
“I knew she would make a great mom,” Sophie said.
In spite of all of the hardships she had faced, Raissa’s baby, a beautiful little girl, was born in Europe, healthy and full of life, shortly after she disembarked. Thanks to the work of the Sea-Eye, Raissa and her little baby survived.
Sophie recalled: “When I first received a picture of Raissa’s baby, my heart was filled with joy: that perfect little girl is alive and well! That’s all I have been praying for. They are alive thanks to people who still care, thanks to the people who support civil sea rescue; people like you who are reading this story right now.”
Today, Raissa and her daughter live in a refugee camp in Portugal, and even though they are still facing many difficulties, they are alive, healthy, and safe.
“God sent the Sea-Eye crew on my way, and to this day, those who rescued me are my only family in Europe – they are the only ones who showed me some kindness along the way,” Raissa says today. “I only wish that they will always keep their love for refugees and the kindness they have in their hearts.”
Help support Sea-Eye and their ships ALAN KURDI and SEA-EYE 4 to carry out more life-saving work, and show your love, compassion, consideration and care for refugees’ lives.
Help us protect women and children like Raissa and her baby. Do not let them drown.
Peaceful holidays to all of our supporters!
Story written by: Sara Cincurova, freelance journalist covering human rights.
*The name and sensitive details of her story have been redacted for her safety