Twenty-seven-year-old Hanan*, lived in Libya for four years with the hope of changing her family’s prospects. She returned to Ethiopia in January in 2018. Soon after Hanan paid smugglers and made her way to Libya.

“One of my main goals and purpose to migrate is to have the opportunity to able to change myself and my family,” Hanan says. “As you know, once you leave your country, it’s almost impossible to find the situation as you imagined it. Although I can’t mention the challenges I faced, nothing I have planned has worked out.”

Upon her arrival in Libya, she worked as a domestic helper for almost a year. But her employer never paid her for all the work she did. As the situation deteriorated around the neighborhood - women were being raped, with other people being subject to attacks and burglaries - she ran away and found another smuggler with a false promise to take her to Europe.  Even after pocketing her money, the smuggler left her, along with among other migrants, at a place called Mezra for a whole month with no food or place to sleep. But she was lucky: a fellow Ethiopian told her about IOM’s services and she went to their office to register herself. After three weeks, an IOM staff member provided the details of her return flight. 

With IOM assistance and funding provided by the European Union, Hanan safely returned to Ethiopia on 25 January 2018 and had no means of supporting herself. However, as she has mentioned to IOM her desire to enter the retail business, help was on the way in the form of a grant. She was also lucky to find a good location from which to sell her wares.

In May, Hanan was provided with a Basic Business Skill training by WISE, non-governmental organization for Women in Self-Employment working with IOM, in order to consolidate her business.  “I am very happy to back in my country, I am happy to be finally working and supporting myself,” she says.

About her experience as a migrant, Hanan says: “I gained so much knowledge from migrating. Not everything you learn is from books and school. Some of the best knowledge we gain comes from a life experience. After I returned, I learned that I can work as hard in my own country and be as successful. Although, some of the challenges I faced were all worth it now and shaped me to become who I am today, I still will never advise to anyone to consider migrating”.


*Name changed for privacy reasons.