How one woman made a desperate cross-border sacrifice to build a better life for her family and get them out of poverty.
This article is part of a series on intra-Africa migration.
Accra, Ghana – Diamond’s childhood dream was to become a famous hair stylist and make enough money to travel around the world, connecting with other businesswomen and empowering vulnerable girls.
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She never imagined then that at age 32, circumstances would leave her closer to the women she wanted to help than the ones doing the helping.
The second of seven children, nicknamed Diamond (real name withheld to protect her privacy), was born into a poor family in Nigeria’s Delta State but dreamt of a better life.
“I love styling hair so I decided to learn it as a profession and to become popular across the world,” she smiled, reminiscing to Al Jazeera. But her excitement dims when she recalls that due to a lack of funds, “unfortunately, I couldn’t see my training through … There was nobody to help me.”
At 16, she became pregnant with a man from Benin City. A second baby arrived three years later. But he left them for another woman, kicking Diamond out of the house.
Then in 2010, tragedy struck when the 20-year-old’s father died, and circumstances that were difficult became unbearable.
Diamond’s brother, the eldest sibling, squandered the little savings their father bequeathed them, leaving her the sole breadwinner. Desperate to provide for her mother, siblings, and children, she took on low-paying or menial jobs, depending on handouts from the neighbours to get by.
But it was not enough.
Her mother’s health was deteriorating and medical bills to help her weakening heart were piling up. None of the younger siblings had work, and Diamond’s two growing children needed money for school fees, food, and clothes.