Skip to main content

Dreams don't have a life span

Smart Hakawa
Sierra Leone
Smart Hakawa 1 : Photo IOM 2022

Reflecting on my life before the Migrants as Messengers (MaM) project, I was not focused. Even after acquiring tertiary education, my life was not well structured. I had little or no idea that I could pull my life together.  My goal was to travel overseas before I could achieve my actual dreams but that’s when I lost focus and gave my money to some traffickers, instead of using it to empower myself. 

The MaM project has created a positive impact in my life. From the beginning, it has helped me think about things differently, and it helped me acquire new skills. Now I can boast that I am a video editor, I know how to conduct and film interviews because I had the opportunity to attend content creation trainings in the project. Still, what I found the most interesting was the impact of the awareness raising campaigns. Being able to meet and talk with young people like me about irregular migration and safe alternatives, the confidence to stand in front of various audiences to tell my migration story and the positive feedback from these engagements made me proud that I was contributing to something important. 

Smart Hakawa 2 : Photo IOM 2022

Furthermore, I had a great experience working with my peers (other returnee migrants). Going across the country to share my migration story and interacting with young people in various districts, has brough me great joy. The first experience I had was during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic – this is when I realized that I could use my phone to do a lot of things, including filming and editing. That experience has brought me a lot of respect from my community which I never had before.  

In 2021, I had the opportunity to attend training sessions with IOM staff from the Regional Office in Dakar; a content creation workshop with Amanda Nero (media development officer), where I learned how to make a podcast, and a journalism workshop with Cedric Kalonji Mfunyi (digital officer) on how to do an interview. 

After the five-day training in Bo Town with Amanda. we were tasked to go out to record and edit interviews. One of the videos created by our group of Volunteers was screened in many of the communities we have for community engagement activities. I was so proud of myself, seeing my first editing work, screened across the country. It gave me a positive feeling about myself, that I can have an impact with my newfound skills.  

The MaM project is one of a kind. We reached young people through many different channels – on the ground, online and on air. Furthermore, we’ve shared with them alternative ways to travel without risking their lives. In a nutshell, I think the community engagement was timely, it has created a lot of impact amongst young people, and especially in the communities we visited.