BY Farida Dawkins, 6:30am January 20, 2018,

For the African single mothers trying to start all over again

A picture of a woman and her little boy standing holding hands with their suitcase in a waiting area lobby at the Frankfurt airport, a large plane visible through the big bay windows. High contrast leaves just their silhouettes visible. Meant to depict travel with a child or infant. Horizontal image.

The anxiety and depression from failure loomed above my head. I was in my thirties, separated from my husband, struggling to forge ahead and complete my master’s degree, completely unhappy and overwhelmed. I knew what my dream job was and I was trying to get there but my blog was going nowhere fast.

I needed financial freedom and I had to be passionate about my life’s work. Being in the U.S. military for six years taught me the importance of being a leader and I walked away with a deep desire to be successful and overcome my fears. Feeling dejected, I took a trip to Ghana to hopefully clear my head.

18 years prior, I had visited my parent’s homeland and I wasn’t really impressed. All I had done was visit family and then poof I was back in NYC. So, every time I was asked when I’d return I’d give the default answer of “next year.” I really didn’t see a reason to go back anytime soon.

My mother kept urging me to visit Ghana. “Farida, Ghana has really changed, you should visit and see for yourself”, she would insist in her prominent Ghanaian voice. “Okay ma, maybe next year”, I’d reply.

Finally, in 2016 I decided to go back “home” with my two young children in tow. My daughter Yasmine screamed as the plane landed “we’re in Ghana” and had our row of passengers in tears of laughter. The warmth that embraced me when I stepped off the plane gave me a sense of peace. I’ll admit, the nightlife sold me as I thoroughly enjoyed my trip and wanted to stay longer than my allotted six weeks.

However, more than that, I needed a complete life makeover. I wanted my children to be raised in a wholesome environment although we all know there is no such thing as a Utopia on earth.  I was hell-bent to formulate my very own heaven on earth. In 2017, after an unsurprisingly frustrating year, I returned to Ghana again but this time I was resolute to make a way to stay there.

I scouted out a few jobs, attempted to network with a few folks but as I am learning, persistence is key in forging business relationships in Ghana and nothing is ever set in stone, no matter how confident the person sounds like delivering the promise. I left again in September with the thoughts “I’ll be back” echoing in my mind. I kept a few cedis in my wallet as a constant visual reminder.

I was browsing Facebook when a family member’s post stopped me in my tracks. The advertisement was requesting writers in Ghana. “Do I have to be living in Ghana to apply?” I feverishly asked. “No, but would you be willing to relocate if you were selected?” “Yes,” I eagerly stated. I promptly put my school work aside and e-mailed my resume and some of my best writing samples.

In 2004, when I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Communication Studies, I had huge dreams of becoming a magazine writer. My office would’ve been somewhere in midtown Manhattan, in a cozy office, living the life. However, rejection, insecurities, lack of drive, and no clear direction had me in a constant search of what I thought the “responsible” thing to do was – get a  “safe” job because clearly, my dreams were not to come to fruition. Or so I thought.

Fast forward to 2018, I’m now a staff writer, living abroad with my children, and figuring it out one day at a time. No matter how many odd stares and incredulous “why would you move to Ghana when Ghanaians want to move to the U.S?!” I’m not deterred.

Having several monkey wrenches thrown in my plan that delayed my trip for two weeks didn’t stop me either. Why? Because I had tasted the price of a dream deferred and I didn’t intend on living my life based on the opinions or fears other individuals tried to instil in me. I knew the price to be paid for not going after your dreams and I couldn’t live my life like that anymore. I wanted to thrive not survive.

I knew my struggle needed to be heard by others. It is my calling I believe.

I hope this inspires you to go after your dreams no matter how late you may be or old or scared you may feel.

Here’s to you. Now go get it.

Last Edited by:Ismail Akwei Updated: January 20, 2018


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