Book review: Overseas Chronicle-The Rome and Amsterdam Experience

By Joel Savage

As a child growing up in a strong religious family, I was thought that everything which is opposite to the teachings of the Holy Bible, including laziness is a sin. I tried my best to live a clean life. We were thought to believe that Israel, Jerusalem and other Biblical countries were all in heaven, without a slight knowledge those countries were all on the same earth we are living today.

When I left my family and looking for a job, I tried to be sincere and prevented doing anything wrong which could land me in jail. I read that jail changes people’s attitude to be good or worse. But I wasn’t interested to know the influences of jail on people. My only interest is never to be there, because it’s not the right place for me. Did I ever succeed?

After going through the most difficult chapters of my life as an illegal immigrant in Rome, by sleeping at the central train station and abandoned food factory, I worked as a house boy serving an Italian journalist. I was able to save some money as illegal immigrant, because the Italians like tax evasion, which of course never improved my situation. I therefore shifted camp to Amsterdam.

In Amsterdam, I lived in a notorious neighborhood called Bijlmer, known for drug and arm trafficking. It’s a home for illegal immigrants. The blocks had tenth floors. On many occasions illegal immigrants and drug dealers resisting police arrest jumped to their death. The news of Bijlmer never ceased appearing in newspapers. Investigations revealed that as low as 200 Euros could get one a gun, crime in Bijlmer therefore was abnormal.

The man I lived with at Bijlmer, deals in fake European and American passports. I was scared to death. Someone who doesn’t want to go to jail mustn’t live at such place. Within three days of my arrival in Amsterdam, through a pastor of a church, I was attending, I relocated. The woman who told the pastor that she would live with me was a widow with five children. Even though she helped by providing me accommodation, I wasn’t a happy man. She has no washing machine, so I used to do the laundry of the children with my bare hands. A week after leaving the place to live with the widow, police invaded the apartment of the fake passport dealer and arrested everyone. It was the biggest news in Holland. Those arrested were jailed five years each. I escaped my first jail sentence. My situation at the house of the widow never improved, I therefore escaped from her house and went back to live at the house where the police arrested the criminals. I leave the house early in the morning and come home very late. No one knew I lived there for six months.

I need to eat but I must work first. How do I work as illegal immigrant? Someone registered for work in his name for me, and I impersonated to work. After four and half years in Amsterdam Bijlmer and still illegal, I met a Surinam lady who promised to help me get my papers. She took over five thousand dollars from me. Unknowing she was a criminal preying on illegal immigrants. When the immigration police invited us for my documents, I was arrested and thrown behind bars.

What happened isn’t a short story to narrate. At one time the police even forgot that I was in the cell, so I wasn’t fed the whole day till the next day. Do you want to know how I survived as illegal immigrant in Europe, until I had my papers? Then I would highly recommend ‘Overseas Chronicle-The Rome and Amsterdam Experience’ to you to read. It is a book which would warn anyone from Third World Country, not to come to Europe and also teach you how to survive as illegal immigrant.

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