By: Abir Soleiman

Amira*, 32, has left her home in Togo 7 years ago, and since then she has been living in Libya. Amira is After being released from detention, she received support from IOM and was placed in a host family. Amira was pregnant when she was detained with her husband and child, until advocacy from IOM ensured their release from detention and placement in a safe alternative. 

Host families are trained as part of IOM's Safety, Support and Solutions programme, as support to the Alternatives to Detention programme. The support she received helped Amira and her family rebuild their life, find work and and become able to support themselves. Amira has now become a host family member herself and welcome in her house other people who are going through the same hardships she managed to overcome with support from IOM.

The positive affect of the host family system encouraged Amira to contribute and make a difference herself, and give back to others in need by becoming a host. 

“At the beggining it was strange to stay with someone you don’t know, but the lady who hosted me was very kind to us. Now I consider her to be one of my closest and trusted friends”. Amira, 32

The first guest arrived at Amira's house a few months ago. She recalls that "at first she didn’t want to talk a lot, but I understand the reasons. She slowly started to engage with me in doing house tasks, then I started cooking for her food from Togo and asked her to cook food from her country. I think this has helped break the ice between us”. 

Amira and her family are supportive of to the migrant community in Libya and they are excited to host more people. Amira explains that "his is my way to pass on the care I received - explains Amira - and I hope that more people like me can support and stand by the community".  Amira’s positive experience with the woman that welcomed her has inspired her to help other survivors like her. "We choose to migrate because of the difficult circumstances we face in our countries - says Amira - Only few people can understand that, therefore I need to stand by my brothers and sisters, who have chosen this path, the same way they stood by me when I needed help”.

*Names of individuals in this story have been changed to protect their identity