IOM The Gambia
“I want to become a successful businesswoman and empower my fellow Gambian women.”
When I graduated from secondary school, my parents had a lot of hope in me. During those years, though, there were very limited employment opportunities in the country. I opened a cosmetics shop, but business was not lucrative, and I had many responsibilities. I was able to save a little from the business and embarked on the backway journey in April 2015, with the aim of bettering my life and my family’s by reaching Europe.
Indeed, it is not an easy route. My money finished when I got to Bamako, Mali, so my family had to send me up to GMD 70,000 (approximately USD 1,400) for me to get to Libya. In Libya, luckily, I was not sexually abused nor exploited, as others have experienced. However, I was imprisoned four times and my family paid roughly GMD 110,000 (approximately USD 2,000) for me to be freed. In prison, sometimes we went the whole day without drinking or eating.
After four years in Libya, I really wanted to come home, but I had no money, no passport, nothing. I had no way out until I got in touch with IOM. Coming back home was the best option for me, because life in Libya was a total waste. The country was in chaos, and everyone lived in fear. Sometimes you get attacked from work and all the money you struggled to earn would be taken from you.
I returned to The Gambia on 24 April 2019 and it was amazing to reunite with my family. A lot of resources were wasted on my journey, but everyone was happy to see me alive.
Through my reintegration assistance, I started selling fashion merchandise, such as bags, shoes, and clothes. Sometimes, I sell secondhand goods and make more profit. I look forward to expanding my business by having a permanent shop where I can buy and sell goods, fashion merchandise, and cosmetics from different parts of the world.