I remain hopeful
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Letter to Friends around the World # 90

My name is Méra. I come from the island of Anjouan, in the Comoro Islands. I have a wife and three children. I arrived in Mayotte in 1994 when I was 20 years old. I came to Mayotte to find a better life. I have not yet found it, but I remain hopeful.

As I don’t have a work permit, I can’t find a real job. I do a little here and there because I know a lot of people. I don’t like sitting doing nothing on my own, so I go to talk to people – anyone – no matter where they’re from. Since I know lots of people, I know that so- and-so knows how to make panels from plaited coconut fibre, and I can put them together. I don’t hide my situation; I tell people and they can then think of me when there is an odd job to do.

The other Comoriens ask me how I know so many people. I tell them that you need to talk. I go to the mosque every day and I ask God to show me the right path.

I live in a banga, a one-roomed house made out of corrugated iron, which I built on a piece of land which was lent to me. Although when it rains a lot, the path is difficult as there is lots of mud.

I buy bundles of second-hand clothes to sell in the neighbourhood. I sell to people who can’t go to the market. Yet it is difficult because they often don’t pay me. If I see someone with torn clothes, I prefer to give them some clothes even if they don’t ask for any. I give them in secret as it’s not good to give them out in the middle of people, as others don’t see it in a good way. They want you to give them the same thing or for the person who received something to give it away, even if they have less need.

Religion says ‘if you give a little, you will receive a lot’. If I find something to eat, I share it as it’s not good to eat on your own. If I find bananas in the countryside, I give them out. For me, it’s important to say hello and to laugh with people.

Méra, Mayotte