26 Jan 2022
By: IOM Ghana

Be patient in life! Patience is everything! When you are patient, it makes life easier. And if you want to travel, you need to make enquiries and ask questions to confirm the information you are receiving about a possible opportunity abroad.

My name is Efia. I grew up in Accra.

After school, the economic situation was not very favourable at home, and I thought leaving Ghana to find something to do elsewhere would be better to enable me to provide for my family. That was what led me to go on this journey.

At the time, I had nowhere in particular to go to, but I knew someone in Tripoli, Libya, who convinced me to come over.

He mentioned the good standard of living in Tripoli and how money was calculated in dollars, hence I felt I could get a few extra dollars to send home as well.

I convinced my parents to allow me to travel.

I left Ghana for Tripoli in 2009. All my travel documents and papers were in place, and I travelled by air.

When I got there, the situation was different than I had expected. I regretted my decision! But I was there already and thus was forced to stay.

I was disappointed but needed to make the best out of my situation. The main challenges I encountered included the language barrier – I couldn’t speak Arabic – and racism.

One day, a taxi driver demanded more money than agreed, and eventually threw me out of the car and took all my belongings.

Many people did illegal jobs and worked as prostitutes, so people assumed that was what I was doing too, and that was why they treated me like that. That day really made me regret my decision to go there.

I was working as a cleaner. The money was not much but it was enough to survive, so I managed.

Being a foreign woman in Tripoli was very scary. People harass you. You might work for one or two months, and you would not get paid. There is no one to tell. You can’t go to the police to report, especially if you are black.

I could not disclose my situation to anyone, not even to my parents, because of fear. I didn’t want them to get worried because the goal was to bring some money home.

I stayed in Tripoli for about nine or ten years and gave birth to three children there.

My kids were not going to school, and they were seeing things that they were not supposed to see at their age. I felt I was harming my children.

I spoke to some friends back home, and seeing how well they were doing, I thought about going back.

One day at church, I heard about IOM. I was told to visit the Ghanaian Embassy and register if I wanted to go back home. I went to the embassy and registered myself and my children, and in less than one week, I was on a flight back to Ghana.

There was someone from IOM on board with us who talked to us, and before I got to Ghana, my mind was already at ease.

When I arrived in Ghana, I received some support. I was asked to find a school for my kids, and I was supported with the fees for all three for about one year. I also received support with my accommodation for two years and with the establishment of my business. I set up a cold store in front of my house.

IOM staff come back regularly to check up on us and my business as well. All this has helped me rebuild my life back in Ghana.”

Today, Efia is looking at various options for her future: she hopes to go back to school, and possibly add a second stream of income through working as a seamstress. But her passion is in photography.

Efia’s return to Ghana from Libya and her reintegration was supported by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.

SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities