9 Months Pregnant, An African Woman Risks It All And Heads To Europe : Parallels Tatiana Kanga paid a Moroccan smuggler $1,290 so she and her toddler daughter could ride in a rubber boat, 14 harrowing hours from Africa to Europe.
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9 Months Pregnant, An African Woman Risks It All And Heads To Europe

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9 Months Pregnant, An African Woman Risks It All And Heads To Europe

9 Months Pregnant, An African Woman Risks It All And Heads To Europe

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Spain is another destination for the overcrowded boats of migrants. Lauren Frayer traveled to Spain's southern coast to meet a woman who risked the journey across the Mediterranean Sea.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: (Speaking Spanish).

CHANTEL: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: Tatiana Kanga's 3-year-old daughter speaks Spanish already.

CHANTEL: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: Tatiana took her toddler, Chantel, from their native Cameroon last year and spent months crossing Africa to reach Morocco. Then they crossed the Mediterranean on a rubber dinghy.

TATIANA KANGA: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: "It was an inflatable boat with 17 people," she explains, "seven of them women, three children, and six of the women were pregnant, including me." Tatiana was nine months pregnant with her second child, Antoni, when she risked her life to get to Europe.

KANGA: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: "We set off at 4 o'clock in the morning from Morocco," she says. "We could see Spain, but we had so many problems. By 8 a.m. the motor broke. I thought we were going to die. It was so hot. I brought some cookies and orange juice, but we didn't have enough drinking water for 17 people."

Miraculously, she says, they made it, washing up on a Spanish beach 14 hours later just as the raft began deflating. Baby Antoni was born weeks later at a Spanish hospital.

ANTONI: Mama.

FRAYER: I met Tatiana and her kids at a refugee center in Malaga on Spain's Mediterranean coast.

KANGA: (Speaking Spanish).

CHANTEL: (Speaking Spanish).

KANGA: (Speaking Spanish).

CHANTEL: (Speaking Spanish).

KANGA: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: We push a donated stroller past tourists at the beach on our way to a medical checkup for baby Antoni. The family gets free healthcare through Spain's public system while Tatiana waits for working papers or possibly to be deported. Francisco Cansino is her caseworker.

FRANCISCO CANSINO: (Through interpreter) She really risked her life, and maybe it's hard for white Western Europeans to understand why a pregnant woman with her toddler in her arms would risk her life in a rubber raft. But the concept of life isn't the same in Spain and in Africa. It's not the same for someone who has absolutely nothing or who's trying to escape conflict and war.

FRAYER: Tatiana would not talk about why she fled Cameroon. I asked her why she came here.

KANGA: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: "I came because it's Europe," she says, laughing nervously. "I didn't know what would happen that morning when I got in the boat, but I was determined to live without fear." Like many migrants, Tatiana paid human smugglers.

KANGA: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: "Of course you've got to pay," she says. "He charged me 1,200 euros - 1,000 for me and 200 for my daughter. She cost only 200 because she takes up less space." Back at the refugee center, Francisco Cansino sees the daily human drama of migrants arriving in Europe. I ask him what he'd like to tell the politicians at tomorrow's summit in Brussels.

CANSINO: (Through interpreter) I'd tell them, don't forget these are people. That's what's fundamental. Leaders on that level - they can lose perspective. The stories of suffering and hope - they're not present in their lives like they are here.

FRAYER: For NPR News, I'm Lauren Frayer in Malaga, Spain.

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