27 Apr 2022
By: Abubakar Kassim

My name is Abubakar Kassim and I’m 26. years old. Before I left Ghana, I worked as an apprentice electrician and a volunteer Arabic teacher.

2015 was a tough year for me. I couldn’t find a stable job and I needed to take care of my family.

I had heard many stories of people traveling to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea who had succeeded and so I decided to take my chances. I was convinced about that because I spoke Arabic and I thought that would make it easier for me to travel through Libya.

Without informing anybody, I travelled to Libya with the intention of continuing to Europe. I worked in Libya for nine months to be able to pay the connection men to smuggle me across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy. After many attempts, I made it.

This is a very dangerous journey, and I wouldn’t advise anyone to do this. Many people died; I count myself lucky to be alive today.

Photo: IOM Ghana/David Darko

In Italy, I spent two years in a refugee camp without the opportunity to work and remit home. I got frustrated and took a train to Switzerland, hoping for a breakthrough.

Things got worse for me there because I was homeless and struggled to find food to eat.

One day while I was sleeping outside, a good Samaritan directed me to a Swiss camp, I think it was Caritas. He told me I will find some help there. At the camp they provided us with food and shelter. One of the counsellors in the camp introduced me to IOM and after the counselling session I was convinced to return home voluntarily.

Now that I am back home, I must say things are much better. With the support from IOM, I have been able to acquire a four acre of land which I use to farm maize, and I now have one tricycle and a motor bike. It did not come on a silver platter; I have worked very hard.

Photo: IOM Ghana/David Darko

Today, I am proud that I can pay for my bills and even my little brother’s school fees.

This would not have been possible without the help of IOM in Switzerland and in Ghana. The staff in Ghana helped me especially with advice on my business.

I am glad I made the decision to return.

My advice to the youth is that you can make it here if you work hard. If you must migrate however, you must migrate the right way.

Kasim’s return was made possible under IOM Switzerland’s AVRR (Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration) programme.

SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth