Onallia Esther Osei:                      

"It is important not to stay
away too long from
your loved ones."

Raised by my grandmother
“My grandmother is my everything; she is not only my grandmother, but also my mother and my friend. After a while that I was born in Accra, Ghana, my mother migrated to the United States. I have been significantly raised by my grandmother, and I know my mother only through phone calls, letters, and pictures. As a child, I was not asking a lot of questions about my mom because I was really close to my father. He had remarried and even though I did not live in his house, I spent a lot of time with him. It was very, very difficult when he passed away - I began to miss having parents.

Moving around
My grandmother used to be a businesswoman and was often away from home. As a result, I had to take care of myself and help my siblings. My mother did not like this situation and arranged for us to move to a different place, where people would be able to care of us twenty four seven. In the end, I moved around a lot. When I would complain to my mom that I was not happy, she would put a lot of effort in finding a new place for me. It was not easy to be tossed around all the time. Was it the result of my behaviour, or of the actions of the people I was living with? I ask myself. Today, when things are not good for me, I just move on. That is what I learned when I was young.

From Kumasi to Accra
As a teenager I felt the need to change schools. The school I was attending in Kumasi was very good, yet I did not like the social environment in which I lived. I had heard a lot of good things about Accra and told my grandmother that I wanted to move there. At that point I did not even know that one of my uncles was living in Accra! So, I moved in with him, which is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Living in Accra made me very independent and allowed me to grow academically. Looking back, I really do not now know what my life would have been like if I had not moved there.

Questions for my mother
To this day, I have not been able to ask my mother directly why she left Ghana. Based on all that I have seen in my family, I think she went for economic reasons. And that has greatly helped the family, including myself. But I keep wondering why she is not coming back to see us and spend time with us. Since I started working on the MO-TRAYL project, I have gained some knowledge on the basis of which I think that it is not worthwhile to pose any heart-breaking questions to my mum when I finally see her. I trust that with extensive reading and my research work, I will only not represent the voices of my study participants; I  also hope to gain a better understanding of my personal development.

PhD in Maastricht
After all, I made a really big move myself, coming to the Netherlands to pursue this PhD. It is fascinating that I am now researching what I experienced myself as the child of a migrant. It is a huge privilege and opportunity to be able to do this and I want to make the best of it.

As a result of my upbringing, I have a lot of strength to be independent, disciplined, and focused right now. From my experiences with my mom I learnt that it is important not to stay away too long from your loved ones. Instead, I try to go back home as much as possible. I also have a transnational relationship - my boyfriend is in Ghana - and that works well. Technology is playing a significant role now. If my mom and us would have had that opportunity things would have been quite different, I guess.

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