Text & Images: Anouk Haenen, Marta Cazorla Soult, Laura Laenen and Alice Famelaer
Header Image by Marit Galle
(The text in red is the original language the person spoke)
Mustafa: “I’m looking for medical support that I can’t find in my home country”
EN: “(…) It was my wife who applied for the visa, five years ago. Living in Morocco is expensive, especially when it comes to medicine. In Belgium, it’s cheaper. In Morocco there is no such thing as health insurance. I am looking for medical support here that I can’t find in my home country.”
NL: “(…) Het was mijn vrouw die het visum aanvroeg, nu vijf jaar geleden. Leven in Marokko is duur, vooral als het over medicijnen gaat. In België is het goedkoper. In Marokko bestaat er niet zoiets als een ziekenfonds. Ik zoek hier de medische hulp die ik in mijn eigen land niet kan vinden.”
FR: “(…) C’était ma femme qui a démandé pour le visa, depuis cinq ans. Habiter au Maroc est cher, notamment pour les médicaments. En Belgique, c’est moins cher. Au maroc il n’y a pas quelque chose comme le principe de mutualité. Je cherche un soutien médical ici que je ne peux pas trouver dans mon pays natal.”
Jaouad: “As a sans-papier, a job equals a job without a contract, without assurances, without anything.”
EN : “Belgium, Europe, is like a dream for most people living in African countries. Most of us are not able to find jobs. As for myself, I studied Geography in Morocco, but after I graduated I could not find a job. You know, the labour market in Morocco, and in Africa overall, is extremely difficult. A dense population means generally low employment. That is why we are here: to work and contribute to the Belgian economy.
Since I don’t have any residence documents I can’t get a job in Belgium, too. Even if I find work here (undeclared labour, nvdr), it would be for around thirty euros for ten hours of work every day. That makes it three euros an hour. I worked at the market, in the Marolles, seven days a week. Loading and unloading while your boss sells things. But due to the pandemic, I lost my job. It has been a year ever since.
I finished my studies and got my degree, just like the others. The problem, however, is that we don’t have the resources to improve the situation in Morocco. People are going to college or university, but after that, after they graduate, they reach a dead end when it comes to finding jobs.
A job while not having the right papers equals a job without a contract, without assurances, without anything. Your boss can be disrespectful towards you or humiliate you. And if you get ill for a day and it’s impossible for you to show up, you will be replaced immediately…
To be able to own residence papers, it’s the foundation, the start, the very first step in order to fully integrate in a country. But even this foundation we don’t have. For example, as a European, you can sit at the table, distributing the food, so to speak. And we are there too, with the dream to join you at the dinner table.”
Amine: “I made the route from Casablanca to Madrid by foot.”
EN: “When I was fifteen, I left Morocco to go to Spain. It was through Spain and France that I came to Belgium. My mom’s brother was already here and he would help me find a job. I went to school in Morocco to study mechanics and in Belgium I would like to do professional training to find a job.
I made the route from Casablanca to Madrid by foot. From time to time I was lucky enough to be transported by a truck, but with a detour through Turkey and the Balkans. I was all alone. My clothes were torn in the truck, so in the end I had no clothes left. If I am honest, I was not afraid: being on the road became a habit. In Morocco, you look at the possibilities to come to Europe and you learn about the risks. The reason why I came here is to study, to participate in the Belgian economy. Papers can give me such an opportunity.”