Philipa

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"I wanted to use my education and skills in whatever way I could to contribute to Ghana’s development."

“Growing up in a liberal, middle-class household in Canada, I was taught that I could do or be anything. My father was black and my mother white—coming from Ghana and Britain respectively, but it was widely accepted to be of mixed-race descent and I never thought twice about it.

From an early age, my father’s passion and love for his country planted a seed and fueled my passion to one day discover my African roots. That’s why, in my early 20s I decided to travel to my father’s home country of Ghana to volunteer at a local hospital and connect with this side of my racial identity—or so I thought.

As a naïve young adult, I expected that I would quickly identify with Ghanaian culture and way of life, however, I soon learned that my cross-cultural and liberal upbringing set me apart. What I experienced instead were moments of culture shock and extreme feelings of rejection.

Twenty-seven years later and I’m still in Ghana. It was never my plan to permanently reside in West Africa, but the more I discovered about this beautiful country, the more I came to appreciate and recognize its potential as a developing nation. Despite some of the social challenges I faced as a bi-racial woman, I wanted to use my education and skills in whatever way I could to contribute to Ghana’s development.

During my volunteer placement in primary healthcare, I saw the gaps that existed in the healthcare industry as potential opportunities. I began by providing simple services that promoted fitness and as things took off, I expanded to include services that promoted health, nutrition and overall well-being.

While my business was doing well, it didn’t come without its challenges. At times I wondered if it was worth it; if I was really making an impact on people’s lives. But then something small would happen that would reaffirm my path. A stroke victim would thank me for helping him recover; a ballet student would give me the biggest hug after returning from summer break; or a gym member would say to me “my wife would have left me if it weren’t for that conversation we had after yoga class.”

Nearly thirty years have passed since I first came to Ghana and I’m still going strong. Not only am I an entrepreneur—I’m a wife, a mother, a philanthropist and most importantly a proud Ghanaian who sees Ghana as home and is committed to ensuring that this country… my country lives up to its potential. Now that I think about it, I realize that regardless of where I chose to settle (whether it was Canada or Ghana), I was going to have to adapt in order to grow as a professional and as an individual.  

I’ve learned that you have to relish in the positive aspects of your migration journey to turn the challenges into triumphs.”

10,217 kmfrom home
#iamamigrant
Philipa
Current Country: 
Ghana
Country of Origin: 
Canada

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This migrant's life story touches on the following Sustainable Development Goal(s):