From Accra to Libya and Back: Greener Pastures Found at Home
My name is Kwame Amponsah. I am a 44-year-old Ghanaian and I live with my wife and child in Sunyani.
I left Ghana in 2000 to seek greener pastures. Before I travelled to Libya, I used to work as a chainsaw operator. I travelled through many unapproved routes to Libya with the plan to continue to Italy, Spain or Malta in case I was not successful in Libya.
For seven years, I lived and worked in Libya as a plasterer. Life became extremely difficult for me there; I made three return trips to Ghana and back to Libya between 2007 and 2012.
In 2012, I again travelled through very dangerous unapproved routes to Niger and settled in Libya. Due to my familiarity with the town, it was very easy to secure a job. I worked in Sabhā to raise some money to help me organize my journey to Italy, but I was met with delays and disappointments from “connection men”.
One day, a fellow Ghanaian I had helped settle in Libya, poured acid on me because he saw me as a threat and competition due to how good I was at my job and the good relations I had with my Libyan boss. I suffered a great deal from this incident. I needed medical treatment. I was not able to move around by myself and sadly I became a burden to the people around me.
My situation worsened when I could not access medical care because I had no official documentation; a situation that left me with self-treatment as my only option. My skin was fast deteriorating as a result of improper medical care, which could have cost my life.
I had to go to Tripoli to access health care and avoid drawing unnecessary attention from authorities. The journey to Tripoli was extremely difficult. We spent about five days on the road, with about 30 of us packed into a Hilux [pickup truck].
I reunited with my uncle in Tripoli whose driver agreed to help me secure medical treatment using his documents. Upon examining me, the doctor informed me that he had to amputate my leg. I had no other option but to agree. Later, my uncle and I were arrested after the police found out about the document fraud. Though we were released, I decided to finally come back home.
I was put in touch with IOM, who came to my rescue. I returned to Ghana in a wheelchair in 2018 with an amputated leg.
Today, my wife and I own a shoe business – we are making, repairing and selling shoes. I am glad that I decided to return to Ghana to beat all odds, including my disability, and to give others hope. Disability is not inability! I was not born like this and since it was an accident, I decided not to focus on it; today, I am okay.
When we play, we remember our orchestras in Venezuela and it feels like a family reunion. I am convinced that music is connected to migration—it is a universal language.