Andrew McConnell




Mohamed Lamin Slot

Age: 26

Ambulance driver, pictured in the desert near Rabouni refugee camp, Algeria.

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I was born in El Aaiun camp in 1983. I grew up here, we got accustomed to it. I studied in Algeria for six years. I started working as an ambulance driver in 2005, it is a great job and I like it. There is a lot of tiredness but I like to help people. It took one year to train in first aid, it was very difficult at first, you remember many bad things like blood and injuries but now it's normal for me. We never rest there are always emergencies, maybe there are eight or nine cases per day. I work from Saturday to Friday and work the whole week even sleeping in the hospital, then I have the following week off. I get almost no sleep during that week. The hardest thing is when people die on the way to the hospital, you wish you could have got them there but you couldn't.

Over time I know the best routes between the camps. I once got lost in the sand storm with a patient, we were very afraid. I was carrying an old man to Auserd [refugee camp], the storm came after sunset so we could not see anything, I was careful and found the tracks, eventually and we got there in the end. To drive here you must know the tracks, it takes practise, different tracks go to different camps so you have to know the right one. There is one road built by the Algerians but it only goes from Rabouni to Twenty Seven [of February refugee camp] and Smara [refugee camp], it is a big help for us. Dakhla [refugee camp] is the worst place to have an emergency, it is very far, there is a road but it doesn't reach it. There is one ambulance per camp with two drivers. Its not enough.

We expect a lot and wish for many things but we haven't seen tangible results. Peace is very nice but it's better to back to war. No one wants to die but it's too long to wait. We are born here and are now grown up, it's too long. We are not of any importance to the United Nations.