Photo credit: IOM/Moad Abouzamazem
“I came to Tripoli in 2010. For three years, I was worked as a housekeeper in different homes.
When you go to a country which is not yours, sometimes you will face challenges. But that will not make you hate the people, no matter what the situation is in the country. Like here in Libya, when some of us wear African dress, others will turn to stereotypes and abuse us or call us names. Not even that will make me hate the people, because God brought me here, and God owns all the nationals.
Libya is good for me. If Libya was not good for me, I would leave the country. As long as my job brings food to my table, I will love my job.
I’m a hair stylist now. What I’m doing here and the way I would work in Nigeria are not the same. The work here is better. It’s very hard in Nigeria. The economic situation and the government are not good. You can’t depend on the government, because they will not put food on your table. You have to fight for yourself, so that’s why I’m here - to fight for myself.
The first two years in Libya were fantastic because back then, when you worked, you would get your money at the end of the month. Back then, I regarded this country so highly, like America, because this is my America. But as time went on, it could take three or four months to get your money.
In 2013, I opened my own beauty salon. The work situation before was better, now everyone is complaining ‘no money, no money,’ referring to the economic situation in Libya. So, if dying hair cost 30 LYD, I will even do it for 10. Because when the nation was good, I enjoyed it, so now that things are up and down, I have to stand by the people. What makes me most excited about the salon is my customers. When they come, they relate to me as sisters, especially some Libyan women. The way they treat me makes me feel good. I like fashion. God created women to look beautiful, so I love to make women beautiful to their husbands. Even those who are not married yet should look good so that their future husbands can see them.
I gave birth to my two children here, but when things got bad, I couldn’t afford English school here. So, I sent them back to Nigeria. I miss my children even if their grandparents are taking care of them. I’m afraid that they will not feel their mother’s love. There is no mother’s love there. No matter how life is with their grandparents, there is no father’s love. So, I feel bad somehow that we are not there with them and I can’t bring them back here to Libya.
Generally, I will tell people who work in Libya to have a holy life. To do only good things and love the people. That will be the advice I will give to them.”