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Last Updated: Friday, 16 June 2006, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
Ghanaian barber: Eric Oppong
My name is Eric Oppong and I moved to Accra 18 months ago because I wanted to save money to open my own barber shop.

URBAN MIGRANT
Eric Oppong with his barber's sign
Name: Eric Oppong
Age: 31
Lives: Accra
Work: Barber

Where I am from in the Ashanti region, there is no work and it is very difficult to make money.

My parents have a farm in the village of Kofiase. Sometimes I helped them out. I also worked as a barber but it was difficult to put money aside for the future.

At 31, I was not married and my brothers were already in Accra, where they sell furniture, so I decided to follow them.

Kumasi, Ghana's second-largest city, is closer to my home town but there is more money in Accra and I know that if I work hard, I can make money here.

Sleeping outside

I work as a mobile barber, moving around the city to shops and offices, cutting people's hair.

Eric Oppong
Eric wants to return home to open his own barber's shop

Usually, I start before seven in the morning and on a good day, I make about 70,000 cedis ($7.60). Out of that, I can put about 30,000 cedis a day into a susu account, a local savings scheme.

Almost every month, I send money home to help out my parents.

But accommodation is so expensive in Accra. It is the most difficult thing about being here.

You have to spend so much money to get some place decent to stay.

Since I came here, I have slept on a mat in an open-air compound in the Zongo area of Accra, one of the city's oldest districts.

About 20 of us sleep in this compound. Some of us sleep on benches, some of us sleep on mats on the ground. The landlady does not charge us for staying here but we have to pay 700 cedis to use the shower.

The hardest time to be here is the rainy season in May and June. At night, there is no shelter from the rain and it is hard to get any sleep. At least in the village, I have a room.

My plan is to go back to the village by the end of this year. There I will have a room and I should hopefully have enough money to open a barber's shop.

Interview and pictures by Orla Ryan




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