Perseverance. It is the fuel that drives the human engine beyond all seemingly insurmountable ordeals in life. It is the state of continuing to exist in spite of all the difficult circumstances we may encounter on our journey in and out of this world. As human beings, our ability to persevere defines our capacity to positively impact our future, and nowhere is this philosophy more evident than in the individual stories of migrants, who have been able to transform their grim present into a promising future.

This is the story of Abiba; a woman who hails from the Upper West region of Ghana. She had initially set out to start a family, but after the father of her child refused to marry her, Abiba found herself struggling to make ends meet. Her elder sister had returned from Egypt to Ghana for a holiday and encouraged her to issue a passport claiming that she had a medical condition requiring treatment. Facing economic pressures, Abiba accepted this offer and decided to spend all her money in order to buy herself out of Ghana. She used her life savings to pay for the visa and plane ticket.

Upon arriving in Egypt, Abiba was employed as a housekeeper and baby sitter, but her employers soon found out about the falsified illness listed on her passport and decided to lay her off. Once again, Abiba found herself stranded in an unfamiliar country with absolutely no means of support. She struggled to land herself a stable job and whatever little income she made out of seasonal employment went into her sister’s pockets instead of her own. After three years of endless turmoil and oppression, Abiba became hell-bent on returning to Ghana. She was well aware of the dire financial situation which hindered her return, but had recently heard about IOM and decided to reach out for assistance.

IOM concluded that Abiba qualified for assistance and immediately started arranging for her repatriation to Ghana. IOM also provided her with in-kind assistance in order to start her micro-business back home. Since she already had some experience with trade, Abiba chose to continue in the same field. Her siblings helped her furnish her old store and Abiba used the IOM in-kind assistance to buy and transport groceries from Accra to her village. She is performing very well and already has plans for expansion. Abiba has increased her level of stock and borrowed a loan from a local group in order to buy a deep freezer for more storage. Not only has she been able to break even, but she has also started making profit. As a result, Abiba can now support her daughter’s education and give her siblings a helping hand. “My life has improved and the impact I have on my community is great. I serve them with a variety of groceries right at their doorstep,” she said.  She also stated that the general public admire her because of her relationship with them and her dedication towards her business. 

She noted that the IOM assistance was an eye-opener for her and confirmed that it had definitely strengthened her economic situation. Her word of advice to the Ghanaian community in Egypt is that “they should come back with a plan of action and their situation will surely improve.”