Allow me to introduce myself to you. My name is Sandra, I am Nigerian born, from Delta State; and a graduate of Economics from Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria.
Just before my National Youth Service Corp in Nigeria and with the zeal and joy of migrating to a foreign land for greener pasture; with the help of my mother, I traveled to Congo Brazzaville because at that time, she was a business woman in the Brazzaville. It was a bit easy to fit into the business world, after few months overseas. I didn’t realize that I was pregnant with my boyfriend’s child whom I loved very much before I traveled. After my discovery, I informed him and he was so excited. Then the beautiful baby was born and I had to sponsor him to join me here in South Africa.
After a few months together, the condition of the environment revealed his true nature. He started smoking, drinking heavily and partying all day. Then he became very violent and abusive towards me. Despite all my efforts to assist him with some of his needs, and getting friends to speak to him, all efforts was fruitless!
At one point he beat me so hard that I was hospitalized. There was this time he beat me up so mercilessly while I was nursing our baby of a few weeks that I fainted and thank God I was rushed to the hospital by our neighbors. I probably would have lost my life. Despite what he did, I realized he wasn’t even remorseful about his actions.
It became crystal clear that I was his means of traveling out of the country and that he was never interested in the well-being of me and my daughter. My womanhood was invaded, apart from the physical abuse, I was also abused financially. I also suffered verbal and emotional abuse as he was always yelling at and belittling me at any chance he got. I found out through his friend that he was cheating on me, it devastated me but I would always forgive him. I realized I was not in a healthy relationship.
I became really confused. I sought help from a counselor on women and child abuse, who helped me to get an attorney and I was forced to make a decision. It was a dilemma of losing my life by staying with the man I thought loved me. He was later deported back to Nigeria. This of course put me into a situation of being a single mother, and in fact was the beginning of my journey!
As a young single mother who work so hard to provide and support for my baby and care for myself; I was able to save some money, I started planning on how to go back to Nigeria and I later remembered the father of my baby who had sworn to deal with me if I ever stepped foot in Nigeria.
South Africa! Yes, South Africa was my best bet! A land of gold, with many opportunities where I can get a job and settle down and have a change of life! So I thought; until I labored and found my way down here!
My first bitter experience when I got here was lack of job. I and my daughter were nearly sleeping in the streets! I used the little money I had with me to start selling sweets and cigarettes on the streets of Yeoville.
Several times during the winter and rainy seasons, we cuddle ourselves in a small room with no window to ensure any soothing warmth. We wake up the following day to sell our sweets and cigarettes. Needless to say, I couldn’t afford sending my daughter to school.
This situation, especially for my little baby forced me into sheltering with a man who only wanted to take advantage of my helpless situation. He woke me up one morning and said I will start selling drugs for him. I told myself that I will never get myself involved in any illegal activities in South Africa. Then I moved out of the apartment. This decision made me discover myself.
Despite the pressures and struggles of a migrant woman, I was able to work hard with determination to engage myself in legal activities and businesses with a well rooted knowledge that most women migrants engage in illegal activities not because they want to.
I was able to get admission into University of South Africa to do a program on human resource management and now, to the glory of my Heavenly Father, I run my own consulting firm: Sandra Ohre Consults.
About Sandra Ohre
Politically, I am the President / founder of Niger-Delta Women Forum, South Africa. I am the Deputy Women Leader of Peoples Democratic Party of Nigeria, South African Chapter. I was the Women Leader, PDP Presidential Campaign Council in South Africa during the Goodluck Presidential Election. Am also the financial secretary in All Nigerian National in the Disaporia South Africa chapter. In Human Rights and Empowerment, I am the Director of Women, Impact Africa Network. connect with me @sandraforreal