• Hadjer Bouguerche | Communication Assistant

Algiers - Aminata, a migrant from Sierra Leone living in Algeria, worked with fellow migrants on writing film scripts portraying the harsh realities of Gender-Based Violence. The scripts, titled "The Wicked Stepmother," "Le Mariage Forced" (The Forced Marriage), and "Courage," were not just fictional stories; they reflected real experiences, highlighting the strength and resilience needed to overcome violence.

Aminata's journey was fraught with challenges, yet her spirit remains unbroken, fueled by the desire for a better life. 

“I don't really have a specific reason why I left the country,” Aminata reflects, “I just wanted a better life, and several of my friends had done it, so I wanted to try too."

However, Aminata's aspirations were soon met with obstacles as her funds dwindled before even reaching Tunisia, leaving her anxious and uncertain about the road ahead. 

“What we experienced on the road was very violent, especially for women,” she recounts, bearing witness to the hardships endured by migrants, both physical and psychological.

A glimmer of hope appeared when a fellow migrant introduced her to IOM in Algeria. “A migrant who was already registered for voluntary return told me about the organization and showed me the office location,” Aminata recalls. 

After receiving medical care, Aminata secured a place at IOM's temporary hosting facility for voluntary return (DARV) dedicated only to protection cases. Here, she found not just a roof overhead, but a supportive environment that addressed the specific needs of women like her.

Fellow assisted migrants devalopping film scripts during the storytelling workshop. Hadjer Bougeureche/IOM Algeria

The support is part of IOM Algeria's comprehensive 2023 action plan for the 16 Days of Activism Against GBV within the framework of the Cooperation on Migration and Partnerships to Achieve Sustainable Solutions initiative (COMPASS) initiative. The plan wasn't just about raising awareness; it aimed to foster healing and empower the survivors.

Within the temporary hosting facilities (DARVs) IOM implemented a series of activities including information sessions and group discussions aimed at supporting and empowering tens of migrants benefitting from the program. 

Storytelling workshops, a key part of the action plan, became a turning point for Aminata. “These workshops made me reflect on my story and the things I experienced,” she shares. Working alongside other migrants, both men and women the workshops, conducted in multiple languages to ensure inclusivity, fostered empathy and a sense of community. 

The action plan also included informative sessions delving into gender stereotypes, discrimination, and inequality. These discussions provided Aminata and her fellow migrants with valuable insights into the social and cultural dynamics of gender, empowering them to challenge harmful norms and behaviors. 

Additionally, in collaboration with the Solidarité AIDS Algérie association, a special session was organized to mark World AIDS Day, offering vital information on HIV/AIDS prevention and support.

IOM Statt facilitating the information session around GBV. Nedjla Laamri/ IOM Algeria

By combining GBV awareness with broader health initiatives, IOM aims at creating a safe space for healing and empowerment. Aminata, who initially felt overwhelmed by her experiences, now finds solace in creative expression. Investing in women like Aminata, who have bravely navigated perilous journeys, is an investment in a future free from violence and discrimination.


French version of the story is available here