Zroho, Ivory Coast 2008
I was born in 1989 and until 2002 I lived with my parents. In 2002, war broke out in Ivory Coast and the country was divided into two parts. My family and I were in the area controlled by rebels. To avoid harassment, rape or suffering; I was forced to flee my area and walk 300 kilometers in the forest. I crossed rivers in the bush that were infested with snakes and wild animals to reach the capital of Abidjan. After several days of walking, I arrived in Yamoussoukro where I caught a bus to Abidjan. I was sick and I had feet in very poor condition.
In Abidjan, I did not know where to sleep and every day, I asked if strangers if they could house me for the night. Some people who left me to sleep at home, wanted to rape me or abuse me. So I went back to the street where I often slept in the markets in buildings under construction at the beach. Some of my friends have become prostitutes but I have always refused to do that. I suffered terribly and I was forced to beg for food. I was sick because I did not eat well and because I was exposed to the cold and rain. At one point I got onto drugs. I often stole to support my needs. I admit that I was not happy and I absolutely wanted to leave the streets and drugs.
After years on the street, I met Mr. Toure Jean Michel (Arigo Sacchio) who offered me a tent and a mattress. It was a beautiful gift. He invited me in his church and asked me to play sport with his team neighbourhood. I immediately accepted and we began to train. With football, I stopped smoking, taking drugs and alcohol. I am fully invested in soccer. I became a good player, I proposed to some friends in the street to join our team. They agreed and now these girls do not smoke more and drink anymore. With the football association, I had the chance to learn a lot and now I feel like I have been saved.
I'd like to tell all the homeless to keep hope and that football can help and save them like me.
May God bless the association, I'll never forget them.