By Ingrid Twenebowaah Opoku-Mensah
The inspiration for the poem came as a result of the data I was introduced to while doing my research on remittance. Most of the data I found were projections and statistical predictions of the impact of remittance on both receiving and sending countries. These projections failed to capture the impact that remittance has had on me. I decided to tell my story on remittance differently as not only an outcome of poverty but as a means by which I maintain my identity as a daughter and a Sunday school teacher, albeit transnationally. The message I wanted to send across to my audience and readers was that there is a deeper meaning to remittance that goes beyond poverty, inequality and underdevelopment; but that as Africans, there is a more significant reason to our remittance – as a means to be felt at home even when away from home; a way to perform the duties that our culture demands of us.
Studying oceans away from home,
Cannot and should not be a piece of cake;
Families and connections left below the equator,
Unsummoned memories that sometimes to the surface foam;
Absence does not only make the heart grow fonder,
It has a way of potently clenching the heart and making it ache.
The privilege and glamour associated with studying abroad,
How easier life gets in the West; even I admit to this;
Beckons me to reach out and help those I left behind.
Through remittances, I am handed a binding cord;
A cord that empowers me to study with peace of mind,
Albeit tremendous sacrifices that hinder personal bliss.
It makes life harder than it is supposed to be,
This decision of mine to remit:
But is a person not a person because of people?
Did I not get here on the offered wings of an eagle?
So I’ll suck it up even as responsibilities triple,
Even as fear and stress and deadlines threaten to cripple.
Maybe someday I will be wealthy;
Rendering the burden of helping others, less hefty.
Until then I will do the best I can,
With the little I make, I will plan;
Remember what they say about practice and perfection?
Someday when I’m rich, I can give without reservation
Because remitting as a poor student groomed me;
To lift a person to become a person for free.
About the author
Ingrid Twenebowaah Opoku-Mensah is a Ghanaian who is currently doing her masters in Global Communication at the Communication University of China. She loves the way her studies afford her the chance to study in interpersonal ways. She especially likes to study Africans and the many issues that surround Africa which beg for research, especially with regard to the rich culture and how it translates into how to view the world. Lately, she has also developed an interest in qualitative research methodologies. Someday, she hopes to touch the world and have the world feel that touch in a meaningful way.