The Stories of Missing Migrants

Latifa: Sabri’s Story

The Stories of Missing Migrants

Latifa: Sabri’s Story

“His birthday is on the 6th of August. Now every year I take his photo with me when I go to the cafe instead. ‘Sabri this is where you used to always sit’ I’d think to myself. It was a tradition that  me and Sabri would enjoy coffee along the beach every year for his birthday.”


Sabri was.. so affectionate and compassionate…When his father (Sabri’s) died, his uncle took great care of my family. So when he heard that his uncle had gotten cancer and was doing chemo, he wanted to be by his side. He said that he refused to leave him there by himself.”

“His uncle had sent him the legal papers so that he can file to come stay with him. Initially, he (Sabri) had everything well-planned, he said he was going to attend his brother’s wedding, then finish his Visa papers and go live with his uncle. But two men had came to him, and told him, we know a coastal guard, a good one, (one who can easily get us to Italy). So he (Sabri) thought to himself, why should I wait? I can go check up on my uncle and make it back in time for my brothers wedding. (Sabri) didn’t even like Italy. But his fate was ultimately decided for him. And me also, I made the worst mistake of my life. I should’ve never trusted him. I should’ve never gave him a penny. I believed him when he asked me for money (to pay the guard to go to Italy) because he’s never ever lied to me.”

Searching for Sabri

I pleaded into the phone: “please Sabri if this is you, say something.’ He never said his name, but he responded saying that he was calling from Italy. He said he was sorry, and that he deeply regrets his decision. He begged me for my forgiveness and told me that he didn’t call sooner because he wasn’t able to reach me all these years. I understood by how he was talking that he couldn’t reveal himself and that he was being watched. I said ‘Sabri before you leave, what can you tell me about the boys that left on the  29th of March. He told me to pray for them.

“I found a body who shared a striking resemblance with my son. I had stitched the letter R for roohi, (my soul), and S for (Souli) his nickname, into both of his pockets. I did this before he had even left in case something were to ever happen, I would have a way of identifying him. I dug my hands into the first pocket: nothing. I dig my hand into the second one and find a sim card. The police officer looked at me and said: what we know about him is that he has a sister, if you know he doesn’t have one then he isn’t yours. I told the officer whatever you do please don’t scare  her ( the sister), she must be fragile, be careful.”

Latifa’s Pain and Physical illness

“But when he left I developed many illnesses. I have high blood pressure, I have high blood sugar. At night I sleep with an oxygen tank because my breathing is bad. I need to take medicine now just to calm my nerves. I try to substitute the medication with herbs and tea just so I don’t become dependent.”

I don’t eat. I can’t bring myself to these days.  I only cook for my family. I’m in a lot of pain But I’m forcing myself to keep going.


Latifa’s Message

To all European governments:

“If your children were put in the same situation as the one here in Tunisia, how would you feel? What would you do? Our children are precious to us  Just like your children are precious to you.”  “Just value your mothers. Don’t take them for granted.”

To the American government and its citizens:

“America has the power to change our situation. If they lend a hand our children will be free within the day.”

“I ask of nothing from the American people except to show empathy for us, the mothers’ hearts are burning over our children.”