STORY: This is the moment Brazilian federal police rescued four Nigerians who had spent 14 days above the rudder of a cargo ship.
The migrants had run out of food and water on their tenth day at sea.
Thankgod Opemipo Matthew Yeye is one of them.
“It was a terrible experience for me. It was the first time, I (had) never tried that before. But because I had already made up my mind to leave, I just summoned the courage. But then it’s not easy. The sea, the ship, it was shaking. I was so scared.”
Two of the men have since been returned to Nigeria upon their request.
Yeye and the other man, Roman Ebimene Friday, have applied for asylum in Brazil.
“I pray for the government of Brazil and Casa do Imigrante to have pity on me, to have mercy on me, to maybe look for a better job for me to work.”
Both men said economic hardship, political instability and crime had left them with little option but to abandon their native Nigeria.
Friday said his journey to Brazil began on June 27, when a fisherman friend rowed him up to the stern of the Liberian-flagged Ken Wave, docked in Lagos, and left him by the rudder.
To his surprise, he found three men already there, waiting for the ship to depart.
He said he had never met his new shipmates, and feared they could toss him into the sea at any moment.
Once the ship was moving, Friday said the four men made every effort not to be discovered by the ship’s crew, who they also worried might offer them a watery grave.
The four men said they had hoped to reach Europe and were shocked to learn they had in fact landed on the other side of the Atlantic, in Brazil.
Father Paolo Parise, a priest at the Sao Paulo shelter, where Reuters spoke to the two Nigerian men, said he had come across other cases of stowaways, but never one so dangerous.
He said their journey paid testament to the lengths people will go in search of a new start.