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Pélagie, a young migrant turned hairdresser in Agadez

“I’m 24 years old, and married with one child. I came to Agadez to continue on to Libya and then Italy. But I preferred to stay in Agadez to find a job,” said Pélagie, a young Togolese woman working as a hairdresser in a salon in Agadez. 

After her arrival in this large city, bordering Algeria and Libya, in northern Niger, she spent some time before deciding to abandon her plan to travel to Europe. Why? “Because since I left home, I have only had problems due to a lack of travel documents. In Agadez, I took the time to inquire about the next part of the route, i.e. crossing the desert and then Libya. I was told that people are raped, tortured, put into slavery…etc. and that many migrants die along the way without ever arriving in Europe: that’s why I decided to give up.” 

The young migrant explains that she has “seen terrible things on social media that show the suffering endured by irregular migrants.” She sighs: “It’s not pretty at all!” 

After being trained in hairdressing in Togo, her country of birth, Pélagie started looking for a job in Agadez. She eventually found work in a busy hairdressing salon. “The boss told me she would give me a month’s trial and if it were successful, she’d hire me.” The trial period was over after a week and the young hairdresser was happy with her new status. 

“If I have one piece of advice to give to all young people who want to migrate to Europe, it is to tell them to try their luck in Africa first. There is no point in trying a dangerous adventure in the hope of finding happiness in Europe,” says Pélagie. 

Today, the young woman, well-integrated into Agadez, has a dream: “I would like to have my own hairdressing salon here and hire young girls from this city to also teach them the trade. What I need is money.”

Like Pélagie, many migrants find opportunities along the way to make their dream come true. “They no longer have to put their lives in danger by taking the risk of crossing the desert or the sea. With God’s grace, if you cry today, tomorrow you will laugh!” explains the young Togolese migrant.

TMP – 20/01/2020

Photo credit: coffeeflavour / Shutterstock

Photo caption: A black hairstylist combing with a toothbrush a beautiful black model.