Maisha organization (Germany) has again organized a 5-day program which seeks to empower women who went through difficulties on migration to sub-Saharan countries and other parts of the world, respectively in Ghana. Maisha means “life” in Swahili. It is a self-help organization of African women in Germany (NGO) which was founded in 1996 by the executive director Mrs. Virginia Wangare Greiner.
The objectives of Maisha Organization (Germany) is;
- To improve the living conditions of African women in Germany.
- Address health, integration, intercultural communication, language, education, work, career, finances, partnership and family.
- Assist in dealing with German authorities and other authorities.
- Psycho-social counselling.
- Empower migrant women and refugees.
Projects done by Maisha Germany includes the following;
Health and Social Services, FGM Project, Mother Child Meetings, International Women‘s Meeting, Language courses, Drum & Dance courses, Health Dance – Makossa, Fitness for Women, Sewing courses, Racial Justice Sunday and Seminars & Workshops. As it stands now, there are so many beneficiaries from this initiative and through these benefits, have been able to correct any previous issues they had.
Mrs. Virginia Greiner Wangare sorted aid from the Germany Federal Government which she used to extend a helping hand to ladies who needed help after going through all these molestations during their trips out of the country. She later thought it wise to extend a helping hand to not only ladies who lived in Germany, but also other ladies around Africa. She did enough research and found Ghana to be her next tackling issue if she was to move to another country.
In 2018, Mrs. Virginia Greiner Wangare came to Ghana to meet with the President of the Republic, His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and shared her initiative to him, of which he approved of. With over 100 women, she began her first program in Ghana and gave them a forum to share their stories so that their voices could be heard. As it stands now, many ladies had suffered molestation, rape, starvation and a lot of horrible experiences during their travel out of the country whether legally or through illegal means. Many thanks to Mrs. Virginia Greiner Wangare, for without her, ladies with such experiences would never have come out to share their stories and all what they had been through.
Akwaaba II SECOND PHASE, saw about fifty ladies who had returned back from the Sub-Saharan countries, and some parts of Europe as well as Jordan. The program seeked to give them the platform to freely share their experiences with each other and not feel left out.
At the beginning of the program, some ladies came out of their shelves and mingled freely as well as interacted with their colleagues, but as the days passed by, the ladies came together in unity and participated fully in all the activities of the program.
The program was divided into two parts which consisted of a morning and afternoon session respectively.
Day 1 of the program started with a welcome address by the executives of Maisha organization, to brief participants of their purpose of gathering, what they are to expect in the upcoming days and what they will be leaving with at the end of training as well as give participants the opportunity to share and exchange their experiences on migration and problems encountered.
Dr. Garnet Algernon Parris, gave a lecture on “The reality of living with illegal status in Germany.” Views and opinions were shared on the topic. He shared his experience when He travelled to Europe. Although through legal means, he stated there was a point where illiteracy led to discomfort occurred, racism and other factors were encountered. He also stated that, you become very vulnerable, and you will face a lot of issues if you are found out to be an illegal migrant. The session ended as the participants gave off a little drama depicting the topic;’ what does it mean to live illegally in Europe? ‘
The second day of the program was a lecture titled “Organ Planting” and dangers involved in risking your life to sell any organ of yours. Dr. Parris tasked the ladies on the question “If you owe someone and you are asked to sell your organ to pay the person, will you or not?” Various points were generated as they stated that;
- One may lose his/her life.
- You are priceless, hence money isnt the ultimatum.
- The money won’t last forever hence it isnt a wise decision to make.
- God knows the reason for two organs, therefore we need not risk it.
- There might be complications during or after the process which can lead to a long term illness.
Day 3’s session saw a message from Mrs. Virginia Wangare Greiner who welcomed participants for joining Maisha Ghana Akwaaba project II. The day’s lecture was presented by Dr. Garnet Algernon Parris titled “Illegal travelling in the Sahara; the dangerous realities of dealing with people smugglers”. It was stated that on average, one migrant child has died per day since 2014. A report by the UN’s migration office said that children are dying during migration at alarming rates, most of them perishing on the Mediterranean. The deadliest route for children are those that involve water crossings. Emphasis were made on the fact that the Mediterranean was the deadliest and most fatal migration route in the world, where over 17,900 people and more died between 2014 and 2018. Others have drowned and till date, their identities cannot be made out. Libyan slavery stories were spoken about as stories of people who were taken in as slaves in Libya were narrated. They had no contact with their families and were maltreated all the time.
In February 2017, a Sky documentary, described Libya as ‘Hell’ for migrants. The question on board for individual participants were;
- What are the issues in the Mediterranean and Saharan throughout the whole journey?
- Why should one embark on such a journey?
On the fourth day the introductory message was given by Mrs. Virginia Wangare Greiner who interrogated the participants about the program and the things they had learnt so far. Dr. Parris came in afterwards with the days topic and tasked individual groups about community mapping and with the following questions on illegal migration;
- Who do I want to reach?
- Where should I meet them?
- Where is the best place(s) to meet with other women
Dr. Parris climaxed the session by encouraging the participants to improve more on themselves and the session came to an end.
Day 5 started with Invited guests applauding the participants for their commitment to the program and the Welcome address was given by the Director of Maisha Ghana Ms. Elizabeth Osei. Mrs. Virginia Wangare Greiner gave a warm address to the audience explaining the organizations motive for coming to Ghana and their start-up in Germany.
Jubilations went on as the ladies danced their hearts out unto God for seeing them through till the end of the program. Participants were asked to share their views on the program, their experiences as well as what they had learnt.
Advices were given out to the participants and the jubilations continued. They were also grouped according to the various skills they wanted to acquire and wrote down their interests and how to achieve them.
Dr. Parris spoke to the participants about setting up their own enterprises and also managing them which will yield much income for them. He stated that, there are many unique ways in making their work different from all other people, hence they should try as much as possible to be exceptional from all others at all times.
There were other points he stated as to how the ladies can grow their enterprise;
- Making sure they train well on their skill.
- Make sure they learn at all times and better themselves and keep moving on rather than being stagnant.
- Have an idea of what they can earn monthly.
- Be disciplined when running a business because a business is run on money, not on family and friends.
- They should also have future expectations about the business and have a vision as well.
There was a short sketch from the various groups as they climaxed the five day program with a lot of enthusiasm.
Certificates were awarded to all participants for their dedication and the vote of thanks was said by a leader of one of the groups. Group pictures were taken and the program came to an end.
Report by Rita Ekua Yamoah.