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Last Updated: Friday, 16 June 2006, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
Haitian cook: Ykena Orel
My name is Ykena Orel and I'm 29 years old. I now live in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Ykena Orel (picture courtesy of the International Organisation of Migrants)
Name: Ykena Orel
Age: 29
Lives: Port-au-Prince
Work: Live-in cook

I left my hometown, Cote de Fer, because there are no employment opportunities there.

I wasn't able to care for my three-year-old child, which is what made me come to Port-au-Prince to look for work. I've left my daughter with my mother and uncle.

I knew I would find work here and would be able to send money back home every month for my mother - I'm her only child - and my daughter.

The father of my child does help but he has his own immediate family, so he cannot provide much.

I came to Port-au-Prince without having a place to stay but I knew of someone from Cote de Fer who had made the move a long time ago. On the day I arrived I contacted my friend and asked if I could stay with her. In exchange I offered to help with the expenses - she agreed.

'Worth it'

My first impression of Port-au-Prince was that this was a place with better opportunities.

Ykena Orel in the kitchen (picture courtesy of the International Organisation of Migrants)
Ykena Orel has one day off a week from her job as a live-in cook

I had access to everything, prices for goods were better, there were lots of nice things, there's electricity, whereas we have none in Cote de Fer, transportation and jobs were easier to find.

I am working as a live-in cook in a household of five. I stay with my friend from my hometown on my day off. I have to carry on sharing the expenses even if I'm there only one day a week.

The move is very much worth it. It was one that had to be made - I could not live well in Cote de Fer, could not offer anything to my child or help my mother, so I had to come to Port-au-Prince in search of a better life.

I have not faced any difficulties. I have done what I set out to - I've found a job, a place to live and I am able to send money back home. My child is well taken care of, though I will only get to see her once a year when I'm on vacation.

My long-term goal is to go to school to learn a skill which will allow me to earn a better salary, then I can really help my mother and child the way I'd like to.

Interview and pictures by the International Organization for Migration

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