From Ghana to Egypt and back again...

Date: June 2015

Service: AVRR

Donor: USAID

Hissam found his way to Cairo to pursue a degree in Islamic Studies at Al-Azhar University. He arrived with his wife from Ghana in 2006 and, over the following eight years, they were both blessed with two beautiful children. In itself, obtaining his degree was a rewarding process, but he soon found himself and his family in a problematic situation. Try as he might, Hissam was not able to find any employment opportunities and, as such, could not financially support his family.

Returning to Wa, their small Upper Western hometown in Ghana, was a dream they all shared as a family. Unfortunately, it was not a feasible goal for four family members with no income and barely any means to support themselves. Hissam was offered assistance by his university; however, they could only cover the cost of one plane ticket. Based on a trusted friend’s advice, Hissam approached IOM for support.

The USAID-funded project, Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR), works on providing assistance to migrants facing an array of issues. When Hissam approached the AVRR team, they immediately began working on providing the family with the needed expenses and paperwork to facilitate their return to their home country. In coordination with the IOM office in Ghana, Hissam was also provided with reintegration assistance in the form of funds to restart his corn mill business back in Wa.

Within weeks, the family readily boarded a flight to Ghana to start a new life back home. Hissam’s brother and relatives greeted them upon arrival and, later on, proved to be an important part of their reintegration process. Shortly after settling in, Hissam became a successful owner and manager of a corn mill and rice haulage business. The proceeds from his business enabled him not only to fully support himself and his family, but also to reintegrate efficiently and become a productive member of his community.

“I could not have been able to support my family without the financial support I received from IOM,” Hissam said appreciatively. “Now I am able to provide my children with proper education and healthcare. I am even planning to pursue further studies by obtaining a diploma in Education!”

Since the return to Ghana was a significant change, Hissam naturally faced some minor business-related challenges after getting settled in Wa. With most of his suppliers based in Accra, the capital, Hissam often faced issues in sending payments due to the distance. The problem was resolved quickly, however, when the IOM office in Accra came up with an arrangement that allowed for payments to be made directly into his suppliers’ bank accounts for smoother transactions.

Returning home had been Hissam’s wish ever since he finished his studies in Cairo. Although it was not always easy, he is more thankful every day to be home with his wife and children. As a migrant who was personally assisted by the AVRR Project, Hissam spoke to IOM staff and encouraged them to keep up their continuous efforts in spreading awareness on the different types of projects and assistance the organization provides. After coming so far, he only hopes that all migrants worldwide can benefit in the same ways he did.