My name is Doris Agyapomaa, I am 24 years old, and I am from Ghana. I have a baby named Raymond, who is 16 months old. He was born in 2022 in Seville.
I was born into a Christian family with eight siblings. I remember living in extreme poverty, and not all of us could attend school. I learned what my sisters taught me.
Due to our family’s economic situation, my mother decided to send me to live with an acquaintance in a more developed city. There, as a child, I worked for her. In that house, I experienced fear, uncertainty, and both physical and emotional violence, enduring unimaginable situations to send money back to my family. Until one day, I made the decision to secretly leave with the money I had saved.
Leaving my family behind has been the hardest thing I have ever experienced…my father, mother, siblings, and nieces/nephews. Leaving my life – where I lived, my environment, everything I knew – even though it was tough. I abandoned it all, with the certainty that it would be a long time before we reunited again.
I left my country in 2018, traveling through Togo, Benin, Niger, Algeria, and finally Morocco.
The journey lasted approximately three months, and I walked most of the way. It was incredibly tough, and I could only hold onto my faith. God guided me and gave me the strength I needed to endure so much pain and suffering.
Seeing so many people die, fellow travelers who started the journey with me… and couldn’t make it…
People were dying at my feet. We had a long way to go and no water or food. I have a very sad and harsh memory, even today, of the condition of those who couldn’t survive…
I could only trust that God would give me the necessary strength to reach my destination. I held onto God, the faith instilled in me as a child that I hadn’t forgotten. In those moments, God felt closer. I needed Him, although I have to admit that I also doubted at times and felt abandoned.
When I arrived in Morocco, I met the man I married. It was a traditional marriage, and my family was angry that I had left without telling them. However, they were also happy to know that I was alive and able to marry a man from my own country and of the same religion. I became pregnant, and we lived in the forests of Nador. We would come down to look for food and beg on the streets. One day, the police chased us into the forest, and I had a fall in which I lost my baby. Living in the forest was very tough, especially when you’re sick. Despite the adversities, I always discovered my God taking care of me and embracing me.
And one day, my husband and I managed to arrive in the Canary Islands, where we were separated and sent to different places on the mainland. Being separated left me once again with many fears, alone on the journey, but God continued to accompany me.
Sent to Seville, Spain
From the Canary Islands, I was sent to Seville, Spain. Again, the fears, the loneliness, the unknown, but this time God had prepared something for me: The Vincentian Family, who welcomed me with open arms, treated me like no one had ever treated me before, giving me everything without expecting anything in return. I couldn’t understand it. At first, I thought they were cheating on me, that I would soon discover the truth, that they would ask me for something difficult, harsh… but the days passed, and I felt more and more loved.
At night, I would talk to God, my Father, and ask if I was dreaming or if my dreams were coming true: how was it possible that I had the right to be listened to, embraced? For the first time, I felt like a person, a woman, a friend, a sister, in a beautiful home where I could share my life experiences with other girls who had been through similar situations to mine.
In AFAVI (Vincentian Family Association), we feel like a family. We all care for each other, help each other, console each other, love each other. All the women who are part of this great family receive special treatment, and all our needs are met, especially those related to health and well-being. During one of those medical check-ups, I discovered that I was pregnant. I was very scared; I didn’t want to lose my baby again. I was so eager to share the news with my husband – it was a great joy – but he didn’t take it well. He told me he wanted nothing to do with me or our baby and claimed that the child was not his, and he left me to my fate.
This time, I wasn’t alone anymore. I had so many angels around me who consoled, encouraged, and cared for me that I couldn’t stop thanking God. Today, I continue with AFAVI, my home, my family, and God continues to bless me every day. My son has turned one year old and is a healthy and happy child.
I fight for a better life for him than what I have lived. I work tirelessly to achieve my dreams, continue learning Spanish, and I am studying. I would love to work helping children who have no family, have my own house, and be self-sufficient.
To all those people who, like me, left their country fleeing or seeking a better future, I would like to tell them not to lose hope, to find a safe place, and to patiently fight for their dreams. Be grateful every day for what God has prepared for them.
The Daughters of Charity’s project in Seville, ‘Vincentian soul’ (lit. Alma Vicenciana) is part of the “13 Houses” Campaign and currently helps many people like Doris and respond to their spiritual and physical needs. Their work focuses especially on protecting women in highly vulnerable situations, removing them from the dangers of human trafficking. The assistance is comprehensive and the result of interdisciplinary efforts, respecting their individuality and autonomy in making their own decisions, ensuring their physical, psychological, and emotional safety, addressing their initial needs and desires, safeguarding their well-being and comfort, and providing them with comprehensive support and assistance.