Editor's note: YEN reader Emmanuel Quarshie is convinced life is not easier or more comfortable in the magic land of the "overseas," and working abroad to get rich is an absurd idea. Besides, if everyone leaves to work, study, or live abroad, who will be left to develop Ghana?
Whenever I walk the streets of Accra, especially from Madina Market to Haatso and in some parts of East Legon, the only posters I see are "Work and Travel Abroad" in cities abroad like Dubai. And that makes me wonder what Dubai has got to offer.
Is it a wide variety of jobs enough for both the Dubai nationals and immigrants to take? Is it enough accommodations for future generations, and even more available for immigrants?
While making personal plans, the youth often considers the need to travel abroad to make ends meet.
There is the general perception that moving to another country is a step towards riches and fulfilling one's desires. It is funny and at the same time intriguing to hear stories about people who travel abroad and later realize it was the biggest mistake they have ever made.
Why would anyone want to leave their country to settle in someone else’s country? The need to be wealthy and successful, is it about travelling and settling outside of your native land?
I have always believed in the need for personal planning. When you sit down to carefully structure and plan your life, you shall see things going on successfully that would beat your imagination. It’s not about where you are, it’s about what you are able to become.
My teacher always talked to us about passing our WASSCE: it’s not about your school, but it’s about yourselves. Your input towards academia each passing day will determine your tomorrow. But even after completing tertiary education, some mates of mine still had interest and desire to travel abroad and make life worth living "out there". I don’t think the lion would ever want to get out of the jungle and pay a visit to the zoo where its movement is restricted. Everyone feels safe and comfortable in their natural habitation.
The desire to travel abroad, is it psychological? I have always redirected such questions to one answer: worker comfortability and good standard of living. Unlike in Ghana, where one works eight hours a day for twenty two days excluding weekends and the salary is pegged or fixed at a certain amount or rate, abroad one is paid based on number of hours. This is what drives the desire to travel and work abroad, not the beauty of other countries or cities. You wouldn’t travel all the way to London to look at the London Bridge! What's next after that?
People want to make much more money, looking at how the world economy is now. Hence the need to travel to a country where earnings are determined by the employee and not the employer, so one can decide to be rich or poor.
I can decide to over-work at one firm or engage myself and provide my services to multiple firms and be handsomely paid at the end of the month, then come to Ghana where the dollar-to-cedi rate is favourable to me and get my money multiplied. Sounds like a nice idea to travel out there!
Life may seem more flexible in the US, for example, than in Ghana. Cars are bought and paid for in instalments. A Ghanaian works hard, gets enough money, buys the car from the USA, pays for import duties and even for some maintenance job on the car, and... The cost exceeds the price you would have paid if you lived in the USA. This is an indication that, whether the person lived abroad or in Ghana, he could get better in life with planning. Good planners in Ghana are making their lives worthwhile. Were the US or UAE countries flowing with milk and honey, we wouldn’t have beggars on the streets of New York or poor citizens there.
Another thing is, you are restricted in your activities when you travel abroad. You become cautious of your activities so as not to compromise yourself in the face of the law, as they may press lots of charges regarding illegal immigration documents, race, etc.
Travel and work take a completely different shade when the person finally gets to a foreign land. When you mention Dubai, the first things that come to mind are riches and great infrastructure. It’s a city that went from nothing to a city of great concrete and glass buildings - probably, immigrants were employed and used to build all this whilst its local inhabitants enjoyed the fruits of such labor.
With the posters on the streets of Accra, they promise of giving interested applicants jobs and place to lay their heads in Qatar, Dubai, etc. Sadly, the situation changes when people get there. South Asians and Africans who have traveled to Dubai to work have come to understand what the expression sweat, blood and tears means.
I read the story of a lady who got to Dubai to work as a maid for a Dubai national. The level of maltreatment pushed the innocent Ghanaian lady to commit suicide by jumping from the window of a five-storey building. She was given harsh treatment, could virtually go to bed without food, was sexually abused by the husband, always beaten by her madam, paid meagre salary...
The recruiting agency has representatives here in Ghana, so the agency and representatives all get a great part of the income. Since they all get benefits from this business, they become reluctant to aid the immigrants who complain of the harsh treatment to come back. In many cases, the young girls who travel abroad either become sex traders or are sexually abused.
There is no peace of mind elsewhere than in your own country. Stay here, plan here, and make it here.
The home sweet home adage is true, as well as this Akan adage that goes Se wosi ekyi eye d3 koraa, 3h ara na wotafiri. You can never express yourself and feel loved more than in your own country. At least you would have two or more friends and family members to run to in dire need.
You may be hearing the beautiful stories about luxurious Dubai high-rises, but I don’t think anyone would stress themselves to the last drop of blood to get to Dubai and just be viewing the high-rises or the ultra-modern and state-of-the-art fountains.
After you strive to get to Dubai, the UK, the US, Spain, Canada, etc., what is next? You can make life better for yourself in Ghana by living a planned and focused life.
Have you got a story to support or contradict Mr Quarshie's standpoint? Also, your own stories, photo-stories, burning issues to share are welcome on YEN's Facebook, we're also available via firstname.lastname@example.org email, and our Twitter.