Alain Diabanza, a Moneytrans loyal customer was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. For the International Migrant Day, he was invited to our spanish headquarters to tell us about the reasons for leaving his country and how he fought for better opportunities and living conditions. For Moneytrans team, his story is a lesson in life and a great example of surpassing oneself.
Alain began his story by explaining the complex context of his homeland. Since the late 1990’s, the Second Congo War (or the Coltan War) has caused the death of more than 8 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Coltan is one of the rarest and most precious ores in the world. It is used in microelectronics, telecommunications and in the aerospace industry. All of our smartphones contain coltan.
The war for the control of resources and its victims
The coltan makes the Democratic Republic of Congo one of the richest countries in the world since it owns 80% of the world’s reserves of this “black gold”. However, this richness only benefits a small percentage of Congolese: 98% of the population suffers from poverty and the middle class does not exist. According to the Human Development Index (HDI), the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the poorest countries in the world. “I don’t remember having eaten 3 times in a day” says Alain.
The exploitation of coltan and other precious ores by armed groups are making women and children more vulnerable. In 2018, UNICEF reported that more than 40 000 children were working in Congo’s mines.
Surviving the nightmare
Alain did not choose to be born in a country at war. But despite that bad luck, and especially thanks to his determination and desire to move forward, he managed to get through this, and he told us how:
“I studied French philosophy, my studies have been subsidised as a reward for being a good student. I then started to work as a teacher in catholic schools until I realised that in my country, thousands of teachers were brutally murdered. I could not teach without risking my life and so, in that moment, I started to consider the idea of leaving my country. All I wanted was to stay alive.
As many people in such a situation, he had to cross many African countries until he arrived in Angola. There, he had the opportunity to teach French lessons and in two years, he managed to save about 3 000 dollars. With that money, he bought a plane ticket to Senegal and then to Morocco. From Casablanca, he travelled to Rabat and there began the hardest part of his trip.
“I quickly ran out of my savings and I had to move to Mount Gurugu. There, I found a community of more than 800 people surviving in minimal conditions. Despite these conditions, the community was very well organised. The newcomers were building huts for the future comers, we were helping each other, and we used to take turns to go down the mountain to pick up food or anything else we needed.”
One day, it was Alain’s turn to go down the mountain and collect food. In one of the houses he went to, he saw a lady sitting at a table with a child. The lady was eating, and she only had in her hand a piece of bread that she was about to put in her mouth. But when she saw Alain coming in, she broke the piece of bread in two pieces and she gave one to Alain.
«This day I cried. I cried with sorrow when I realised the extreme situation in which I was. But I also cried with joy because there, I learned the importance of sharing. This lady, by sharing her bread, she lessened her sadness and she spread her luck by sharing with someone else.» – Alain Diabanza
Alain tried to jump over the fence of Ceuta, but that was practically impossible. In December 2004, while sitting around a camp fire with some of his comrades from Mount Gurugu, he decided that in March, he would cross the border by swimming with no more means than oil to be spread over the body to fight the cold, inner tubes as life jackets, ropes to tie themselves to the inner tubes and fins. Alain was aware of the danger of such a crossing and he was terrified, but he felt that he had no other choice, that he could not back down.
That day, nothing happened as expected. Within a few hours, Alain lost consciousness because of the cold water. Luckily, he was rescued by the Civil Guard and woke up in an hospital. Unfortunately, not all of his comrades survived. He then applied for asylum and, after a few months in a Centre for Temporary Residence of Immigrants (CETI), he went to Malaga.
He had trouble assimilating things as simple as opening a fridge or finding a milk pack just as it was difficult for him to return to his country 13 years later and see that the situation of his family had not changed, that nothing had changed, except him.
Now, he still has to be courageous every day to keep moving forward. He lives in Malaga and he helps other immigrants by working with the CEAR (the Spanish Commission for Refugees). He has formed his own family, he is married and has 3 beautiful daughters. When he speaks about them, his face lights up, there are no words that can describe such pride and satisfaction.
Alain has learned two great lessons in this path of overcoming and survival:
«One is the importance of sharing and that is why I have been sending money to my family in the Democratic Republic of Congo since I had my first job, even if I don’t earn a lot. Another is the value that money represents, even if the value is minimal, for people who need it the most.» – Alain Diabanza
During his visit to our head office in Malaga, Alain was pleasantly surprised to meet the people of the Moneytrans team and he was glad to be able to see all the work behind his money transfers.
«We are aware that our clients are people with inspiring stories of surpassing oneself and we know the importance of money transfers for them and their families. That is why, we work hard to ensure that their money arrives safely and as quickly as possible. But what best defines us at Moneytrans is our empathy: our proximity, our knowledge of our clients’ different cultures, our support in every moment by celebrating with their national holidays as well as their achievements and their challenges. And that is one of the reasons why our customers keep trusting us. Such as Alain, they are more than 5 million to use our services.» – adds Leticia Carbajo, General Manager of Moneytrans Spain
From Moneytrans, we want to give more visibility and show our support to all the brave immigrants of the world as well as raising awareness towards the benefits of immigration since it contributes to the increase of the active population and thus to the increase of the GDP and the demand.
Immigration also helps to correct the large demographic deficit in Western countries and strengthen the pension system.
Moreover, immigrants tend to create businesses more often than native people. In fact, one of the secrets of the success of the Silicon Valley is the huge number of companies created by people born outside the United States.
Despite this, hostility towards immigrants is still increasing worldwide and at Moneytrans, we want to fight this by highlighting people like Alain, people who fight and yearn for a better life, for a decent life. People who bring cultural, economic and social benefits to every society and who are example of surpassing oneself, example that we have so much to learn of. Hopefully, we’ll be surrounded by more and more people with such inner strength!
These are some of the principles we follow at Moneytrans and some of the values we defend and, therefore, we invite you to do like Alain and to help us create a more tolerant and just society for those who are wishing to move forward and be happy!