In 2008, Ellen was looking online for study abroad programmes. “I wanted to better myself with a degree from abroad,” she explained. When she saw that she could work as a student in Ireland, she was excited at the opportunity. Ellen decided to move to Dublin to study business. “South Africa is an English speaking country so it wasn´t difficult for me.”
Ellen had a great experience as a student, and recalled that time in her life as an exciting and beautiful period. Unfortunately, in 2011, her mother passed away. She decided she needed to go back to South Africa to be with her family.

Ellen didn´t have the means to return, but she had heard about IOM from friends. She sent an email to the office and received assistance soon after. “I am grateful,” Ellen said. “I always think of people in my situation; it is not a nice situation to be in. And apparently there are a lot of students in Ireland from abroad that are actually struggling and suffering.”

When she learned that she could apply for an in-kind grant for her reintegration after she returned, Ellen decided to open a small cleaning business. She bought detergents and a laptop to run the business convinced that other women would use her services because “those are necessities that people need everyday.”

However, the business did not grow as well as she expected, and after six months in South Africa, Ellen did not feel she had resettled at home. She especially regretted being unable to finish her schooling. “I definitely did not find what I expected in Ireland, but I am hopeful that I can still visit one day, as I left an unfinished degree.”

“The support I received has been unbelievable.”

In 2013, staff from IOM Ireland had the opportunity to visit Ellen in South Africa. Because her cleaning business could not support her, Ellen had begun to search for work abroad again. She managed to find a job as an English teacher in Thailand, and was looking forward to taking another step in her life. “I want to move on. Get my life back in track. That is what I am asking for.”