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Victims of African Migration Include Abandoned Wives

Victims of African migration are not only young people who go on reckless trips trying to get to Europe. They also include those affected by economic migration within the continent. Among these are wives left behind by their husbands in unfamiliar places. In the final part of a series on migration issues, VOA's Nico Colombant profiles Veronica Lefuka, a Zambian woman abandoned by her husband in a small Senegalese village.

Veronica Lefuka seems well acclimated to cooking Senegalese food.

"What I am doing at this time, I am cooking some Senegalese food," she explains. "I am cooking Thiep Djem, it is rice and fish, and oil, tomatoes and cube Maggi, and onions and everything like that."

She was taught by the wife of her husband's brother.

She met her husband in Zambia's copper belt, in a mining town where he used to work. Everything was nice in Zambia, she says, but then he took her back to Senegal.

"We have two daughters and one son," she explains. "My husband decided to bring the kids in Senegal, so we brought the kids. My husband took me to the village."

Her husband left soon after to seek work again - never to reappear.

"My husband, he left us here in Senegal. He went back to Zambia," she says. "Now it has been 10 years he never came [back to] Senegal. I have been here now for 14 years, alone with the children."

Her two daughters were forced to marry as teenagers in her husband's village, 400 kilometers east of Dakar. After that, she says she felt increasingly trapped.

Lefuka decided to head to the capital with her son, so he could get more of an education. She says she is a born-again Christian and gets help from different churches to survive and pay for his studies.

"The truth is I am not working. People are giving me money, that is the truth," she says. "I did not work for all these years I stayed in Senegal. I am a born-again Christian. The Pentecostal church, the Catholic church, they try to help me sometimes."

Her son is now in second year of university, studying English. She has sacrificed so much for him and now Lefuka says she would like something better for her own life.

"I do not do anything. I am like somebody's ship in the ocean. I do not know what I am doing," she says. "I have got no power. I have nobody to help me. I have nothing."

She says all she has as documentation is an expired Zambian passport and an expired driver's license. She says she is not sure if she should stay in Senegal, where she has never felt at home, or try a perilous and costly trip back to Zambia.

She says when she married an enterprising migrant man, she had no idea this is how her life would turn out - so lost and so lonely.