Share
twitterlinkedinfacebook
Image 1 of 1
Saharawi29.jpg
Ali Mohamed Brahim, 31, pictured outside an old school in Dakhla refugee camp, Algeria...When I was eleven half of my class was sent to Libya and the other half to Cuba to study. I went to Cuba, I had no idea where it was but I was excited. That was 1989, we spent a few days in Havana and then went on a boat to Youth Island. Many of us had never seen the sea or been on a boat before. I stayed on Youth Island for 7 years. There were many students from Angola, Zimbabwe, Nambia, Ghana, Yemen. The first years were good but when the [US] blockade happened things got difficult, there was less food. After I went to Villa Clara and studied English for five years...In 1998 most of us returned to the camps for the identification process for the UN organised referendum. They took our pictures and asked our names, tribe, faction, Wilaya (camp), parent's name. They looked it up on a computer; they had a list from the Spanish census. There was a sheikh from the Sahara and one from Morocco and the UN man would ask them, 'do you both know this man?' and if they both agreed you were registered. The problem was the Polisario excepted this plan and it took a very long time. When the UN were about to release the list [of eligible voters] the Moroccans released another list and said these people are also Saharawi. ..We were all excited about the referendum and of course to see our families after nine years, there were many parties. After a month I returned to Cuba. Over the following years we slowly realised there would be no referendum.  We were very disappointed. People were asking 'why am I studying here if I am only going back to the camps to no job?' I returned to the camps in 2003 after fourteen years, it was exciting, people had grown up, my sisters were married with children. There was a lot of business and people were more active. I wanted to teach so began in a school teaching Spanish and I am still there today. ..As long as the USA, and especially France, are putting traps in