Nadia Lejaille
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I have four children, three girls and one autistic boy. My oldest daughter is 25-years-old and lives in Brandenburg, my second daughter is 19-years-old and lives in Berlin, and I am here with my last two children. My autistic boy is 9 years old and my youngest girl is 4 years old.

I am Cameroonian, and I was born in Bazou. My dad had 25 wives and 102 children. He was a village chief. I didn’t go to school, but I worked in a company called Soleil Cameroun which manufactured hair strands. I was in the finishing department. Three of my children were born in Douala, my youngest daughter in Germany. I lived with a man in Douala, but we were not married. He is also not the father of my children.

I had wished to live a life like everyone else, to go out…. But I had a problem in Cameroon that forced me to leave the country. My life partner was separated from us in Tripoli and since then I have not heard from him. I couldn’t imagine coming to Germany, so I didn’t know what life would await me here. The journey was: Cameroon – Nigeria – Niger – Tripoli – Italy – Switzerland – Germany. I made the trip with my little sister, her children, my three children, and my granddaughter. I arrived in Germany six years ago.

When I arrived in Germany, I went to the policemen and asked for help. They took me to the office and asked me some questions. Then I went to a center in Eisenhüttenstadt, then to the home in Jüterbog, and finally to Am Mellensee, where I stayed for five years.

I am new here at the home. I tried to attend a German course, but it was not easy with the children going to school. They came home at 1 pm. So, I stayed at home to do the shopping and the housework. But now my four-year-old daughter doesn’t go to school anymore because there is no place. This puts her at a disadvantage because she doesn’t speak German well. But my son, he goes to school. The school is far away, so I have to take him and pick him up every day.

I go to Berlin every weekend to see my little sister. She has three children and all her children already speak German, so it’s good for my children. My sister has her own apartment, but she doesn’t work yet because her son still doesn’t have a place in school. In the Home, I only have contact with one Cameroonian woman.

I find that the help I receive is not enough when it comes to my son, his environment, and the doctor’s care of him. In Am Mellensee I had something like an apartment, which was good. But here, the kitchen and the toilets are shared. And I only have one room with an autistic child. There is not much privacy. Among other things, my son is taken care of by the school, but the doctors are in Potsdam. There is a lady who helps me, who picks me up and takes me and my son to the doctors.

I have everything I need. I have a lawyer…But the help I want, is that I can move closer to my sister in Berlin. It would be really important for my children to speak the German with my sister’s children and to help with their homework.

For me, integration into society is through language. But I didn’t go to the German language program. It is really important for me to go to school to learn German. I would really like to go to school and speak German. I have not attended an integration course either. I don’t want to stay at home anymore, for almost six years now I have stayed at home, but my head is cracking. I am a person who likes to fight, but I’m not used to this rhythm of life.

You can find the original interview in French here.

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