Threads of Hope: Refugee Sisters Redefine Fashion and Self-Reliance in Ghana.

Source: Patience Folley

Joyce at her shop stitching clothes for her clients

Denu is a town nestled in the Ketu South District of the Volta Region in Ghana. This is where Joyce Henyo, 23, a refugee from Togo, lives. Janet is her old sister. Joyce had a burning passion for fashion and a deep desire to help people look their best. She possessed an innate knack for design, and her heart brimmed with creativity.

“I love to help people look good. I’ve always been interested in fashion,” says Joyce

Joyce has been home for four years after completing her secondary education. Despite the challenges she faced as a refugee, she never let go of her dreams.

In 2021, UNHCR launched a livelihood and skills training project in the Volta Region to empower refugees and the local communities. This project aimed to provide opportunities for self-reliance and enhance the lives of young people like Joyce. She seized this opportunity and embarked on an apprenticeship program, determined to chase her biggest dream of becoming a renowned fashion icon.

“I would most likely have been on the street hawking to make ends meet if we had not had this training opportunity,” Joyce reflects.

Meanwhile, Joyce’s older sister, Janet, 26 years old, also benefited from this life-changing project. Janet had enrolled in a beautician training program and successfully completed her apprenticeship. The two talented sisters joined forces, opening a one-stop shop in their community. Together, they transformed the lives of countless individuals, making them look stunning for their special occasions.

“When I make clothes for people, especially the young ones, for their parties and other social activities, my sister is here to help put the finishing touch with great makeup,” Joyce explains.

In November 2021, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Ghana, with funding from UNHCR, implemented a livelihoods project in the Volta and Oti regions. This project aimed to provide technical and vocational training to refugees from Togo and their host communities, equipping them with essential skills for self-employment and resilience.

“I am happy to be on the path to achieving my biggest dream of becoming a fashion icon,” says Joyce, reflecting on her journey.

In addition to skills training, all 171 project beneficiaries received relevant financial and environmental management training. They were also connected with local loans and credit agencies, ensuring they had the necessary resources to thrive.

Ghana, generously hosting over 3,000 Togolese refugees, had become a new home for many. Among these refugees were individuals who had been displaced for more than two decades, longing for a lasting solution to their plight.

UNHCR recognizes the importance of supporting these refugees and their host communities. Through partners like ADRA, they strive to enhance livelihoods and foster self-reliance, not only meeting the needs of the refugees but also contributing to the local economy.

Joyce, Janet, and many others like them are shining examples of how a simple opportunity could transform lives. Their success story, borne out of resilience and determination, resonated with the dreams and aspirations of countless individuals seeking a brighter future.

And so, in the Volta and Oti regions, UNHCR’s livelihood initiatives continue to flourish, nurturing a community of self-reliant individuals who believe in the power of their dreams.

ADRA is the humanitarian wing of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which has since 1983, partnered with governments, local communities, and organizations to offer relief in times of crises and sustainable development interventions to improve lives.

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