Nicky was 17 and pregnant when she travelled to Malta in 1998 as one of the first refugees to enter the island – and her incredible story has been released in a new interview to mark World Refugee Day.
Speaking to The People of Malta, Nicky recounted the fateful voyage from Nigeria through Libya to Malta, where she lost her partner before even setting foot on the island alone. Her story shows in detail what it’s like to travel to another continent in the hopes of starting a safer life.
Nicky described how everything was new to her; she was never told the risks of the journey, nor was it her choice to come to Malta specifically. All she knew was that she wanted to leave her country “to start a new life.”
Upon her arrival she was placed in Ħal-Far and watched several other migrants get repatriated.
She was one of the few who stayed on and she believes that this was thanks to her pregnancy, “I was 17, pregnant, and on my own. Where could I possibly travel to?”
Nicky spent months locked in Ħal-Far, not knowing what was going to happen to her. As she described it, “you become frustrated when you don’t know what’s going to happen to you. It’s not easy.”
Eventually, she was placed in a shelter where she was clothed, fed, and cared for. She lived off of donations to the shelter but faced legal problems that affected her mental health and that of those around her. Nonetheless, she was able to acquire the necessary support and protection from humanitarian organisations that kept her on her feet.
And after years on the island, she was finally given refugee status with the appropriate rights and conditions.
Nicky continued to say that from the moment that she landed in Malta, she wanted to focus on her life.
And that she did. She worked hard, faced challenges but remained determined to study, get a job, survive, and feed her son. “Hard work pays off.”
She is now a Maltese citizen who can speak Maltese and runs her very own hair salon.
Nicky also touched on her approach to dealing with racism in Malta. She explained that although she experiences it, she doesn’t consider it as her problem, “how can a person not like me, if they don’t know me?”
The heart-warming post concluded with her assuring that she’s in a good place. “Here I have a family and a lot of friends who I consider family. They know me, the good and the bad. I received a lot of love and help and I can say that most of my wishes in life have come true.”
Nicky’s strength is truly inspiring and her story serves as a demonstration of the possibility of integration. Even as a young and pregnant Nigerian refugee in 1998, Nicky learned Maltese, opened her own business, and essentially created a whole life for herself and her son.
Were you inspired by Nicky’s strength and determination?