A love Affair in Belgium
This is the true story of a Belgian woman who loved a Sierra Leonean immigrant in Belgium and how he took advantage of her and ran off with 11000 Euros
SwitSalone Blogger’s Note: To some people posting this letter might seem inappropriate. But I felt touched by this woman’s story. I’ve never met her but last fall she contacted me via my blog to ask about volunteer opportunities in Sierra Leone. I directed her to FAWE and gave her my mom’s number incase she might need something else. We’ve kept in touch since. When she told me about how she was treated by a sierra Leonean man she was dating in Belgium I was touched and I felt a lot of compassion for her. This man took advantage of her and used their relationship to defraud her of $14000. Clearly this is only one side of the story. Take what you want out this story. But remember this could happen to anyone.
Reprinted from an email that was sent to me with full permission to share this story
Thanks for cheering me up earlier on. Find it still so unbelievable that my ex can behave like this; while he knows I am a single mum, and don’t come from a rich family or so. And also knowing that his family in Sweet Salone could do so much already with 1/5th. But as you say, what goes around, comes around (or is it the other way?)
My story: we met in a salsa café. I was going home and he followed me out, trying to convince me to stay a bit longer. He wanted my phone number and at first I thought of giving him a wrong number. He already sent me a text message the next day and we started to talk for hours on the phone. Much to the amusement of his cousin who was visiting from Sweden.
Anyway, we started to date, and he did everything to impress me. I was following a course in Antwerp and he would take the public transport to get there, and wait for me, just to be able to see me for 30 mins. As a single mum, I needed to head home asap, as my one of my sisters would take care of looking after my daughter. He would get up early in the weekend and ensure my car had a parking ticket. Small, but nice and caring actions.
About a month later, he got fired. And I started to borrow him money (I am never sure on the lending/borrowing) but told him I wanted it back. Just so he could get his fees paid with a union, because they do pay the unemployment fees in Belgium. And I should have run away big time, as I found letters from companies claiming money on things he hadn’t paid. He told me that friends told him that it was better to make debts so they would grant you the Belgian nationality. Found it incredible, but then, what do I know of how to get a Belgian nationality if you don’t even wanted to end up in Belgium but in the UK; where there is no language issue.
But he had met my daughter, and the 2 of them got on very well. He was kind to her, and we went ice-skating, took her to the movies; family stuff. Something I so much longed for as I separated of my ex-husband when my daughter was only a couple of months old. So, we never had experienced this family feeling, and I wanted it so much.
But there he was, still unemployed, feeling bitter of being in Belgium, where the racism is high, not speaking the language good enough (although he had already spent 5-6 years in my country) for interesting jobs. So he wanted to go to China, and do business. Buy things and sell them in Belgium, trying to make profit. That’s how he made a living in Sweet Salone, and he was good at it. But Belgium is another country; they do not stimulate small businesses. You have to register, have a minimum capital, comply with so many rules and regulations and that’s something he did not want to understand.
I told him not to buy fake things in China, as the Belgian government is very strict about it and would confiscate fake brand goods easily. Anyway, we agreed that I would lend him the money so he could go to China and check it out. He left, and when in China, he just starting buying and buying and requesting more and more money from me. It didn’t matter that I did not agree on it that I did not want to, he would just go on and on until I had transferred him more money. Back in Belgium of course, boxes did not make it through customs. Friends would get in trouble and be summoned by the police because of fake brands in the boxes. He had sent things to his cousin in Sweden, which needed to picked up, and would blackmail me, stating that he would not pay me back if I would not drive down there, but if he needed to take a plane and things would get confiscated. If that happened, then it was my fault, and so not his responsibility to pay me back.
He would buy t-shirts, and shoes, and jewelery for himself; he would go out behind my back the week I had my daughter and could not spend time with him. And at the end of the month, he would not have money to buy food.
So, it was normal that I would buy food, not once asking or offering to pay for it. We would go for a walk and would want to go and have dinner, leaving it up to me to pay the bill. He got in trouble with his landlord, and asked me to lend him money to pay off the debt, so he would not get kicked out of his apartment. When he was at my house, he would make numerous calls to friends and family around the world all at my expense. He would sit around, doing nothing, while he had promised to paint my stairs or walls, all because he did not like it the unfinished way it was. And I was happy, because again, it felt so much like family, sharing, working together to make life nicer for us. But no, he would just watch tele, smoke in my house while I asked him so many times to smoke outside as my lungs were suffering from the smoke. The discussions we had, the times I tried to make him respect my boundaries on the money, the sleepless nights I would have trying to find a way to make him respect me. I sent him an e-mail with how much he owed me, asking him to come up with a plan, but he just ignored it. Or would tell me how controlling I was, and that because he owed me money, I thought I owed him. What started out so nicely was turning into a nightmare.
I told him that if he could not respect my boundaries, and start paying me back instead of buying more new shoes or t-shirts I would have no other possibility any more but to leave him. I tried several times to break up, but he would just continue and I loved him so much that I stayed. We would hardly go out, while I craved to go salsa dancing (that’s how we met) but he would tell me he did not want to take me out, as I was not dressed stylish, young enough. I tried to ensure dressing in things he liked, but I am not really into fashion, and care more about being warm than good-looking. He was just such a confused man, one day wanting kids with me, next he preferred to have them with an African lady. Or he would want our kids to grow up in Africa, and the next, he would get his brother’s kids over to us, for them to study. One day, he wanted to leave for the UK, because at least, the situation would be easier, the next he wanted to go back to Sweet Salone. As there was quite an age difference between us, I tried to encourage him to grow, to go do what he really wanted to do, so he would be happy; even if it meant leaving me; because love doesn’t try to captivate.
I tried so hard, I so much wanted this relation to work out, wanted so much for him to be happy. Encouraged him to take a course, so he would find a job easily He did and finally in February this year he was admitted to a course learning to repair and renovate things in houses.
In November, I went to Sweet Salone and met his family and friends. I loved it, and was so happy. There is this picture of me with his little niece on my knees, and I felt so at peace, so happy, was just radiating. I took his family out for lunch, gave them some money, ensured that they would get home, and we had a lovely time. Back in Belgium, all I got to hear was that I had not given enough; while all the presents he wanted me to take to them, I had paid as well.
So, that last Saturday, I drove to Antwerp to pick him up. I told him he would have to take the train back home the next day, as I had a family gathering and he did not want to meet my family. He asked me for money to pay for his train ticket and that was it. That was the drop, to an enormous pile. I was so shocked. How could he ask me to pay for a lousy 6€, while he spent loads on cigarettes and clothes and shoes he did not need. Needless to say, he has more shoes than I do ;-). So I refused, I just had had it, and told him that this way, I was better off paying a gigolo; at least this person would try to please me, instead of being taken for granted. I gave up, and cried so many tears, as with all the love and the care I had for him, I was not able to find a solution to our issue.
I asked him to sign a declaration on the money I had been so nice to lend to him, but he refused. I just had to take it on his gentleman’s word. There had been so many lies and my trust level has gone so low. I tried to explain it would give me peace of mind; but no. He just complains that I give him stress; because I refuse to give up on the 11300€ he owes me. I already agreed to only want 10 000€ back. The lies continue, we are 5.5 months later, and still I have not seen a penny; nor did I get some of my personal belongings back, for which I have been asking for the last 3 months. What can he do with my jacket?
I feel so betrayed, not only financially, but also of my faith in myself. I feel myself drifting as I so much wanted this family feeling and again I find myself alone, and have lost enthusiasm in life. My daughter doesn’t want me to have another man in my life anymore; it only brings hurt and sadness. His family and friends don’t understand, because if anyone would do this to his sister, he would not accept it.
I have been so naive and I don’t have any legal proofs to stand on, to ensure him to pay me back; ashamed as well that I let myself treat in such a lousy way. Until recently I still missed him badly, I still was hoping to see any signs of his goodwill and maybe we could work it out…. I get told it’s only money, but it’s so hard to let go, I have saved for years, always watching my money, always ensuring to have everything for my daughter. And during the time I was with him, I would turn around every penny to ensure I could help him. And for what? To get told I am controlling and a nag, to worry and to feel as if I am not good enough, to have a girl hurt and losing positive feelings towards men?
So I try, failing a lot of the times, but still try to see the good things, to see what this does FOR me (rather than to me), and then I know, I might not have visited Sweet Salone, and seen it’s beauty. I have met his friends who care about me very much, and call me to ensure I am ok; I have bought some nice clothes at his suggestion and changed glasses. I started salsa classes again and enjoy it so much. I got to know a city and to find my way around. I am determined to go back to Sweet Salone. I shared nice moments with him, watching movies, eating African food, and can prepare another chicken dish with peanut butter sauce. I started watching football again, and tried my relationship skills, even if I don’t like the result. Most importantly, I did stand up for myself, and respected my boundaries, how much it hurt and still does. I discovered some other music, and learned a couple of words of krio.
Well, dear, have not reread it, as it is long, but then we did spend 14 months together.
Big hug and give my regards to your mum.