WHEN mum-of-four Favour Ajah decided she wanted to pursue her dreams, she resolved to let nothing stand in her way.
It meant she would face the trauma of travelling to a strange city to study, with nowhere to live and with her young children in tow.
At one point she ended up sleeping in the lounge at Edinburgh Airport, then living in a single room. Later she had to try to fit her nursing studies around four part-time jobs.
Now her incredible determination to graduate from university has finally come true.
Favour received her Bachelor of Nursing degree in a moving ceremony at Napier University. It brought a happy ending to a dream that almost turned into a nightmare.
Favour, 44, had already studied at home in Ireland when she realised she wanted to swap her studies for a degree in adult nursing.
However, the only suitable course was miles away – in Edinburgh. She said: “I didn’t know anyone here at all. But it was exactly what I wanted.”
While her fees were paid for, Favour knew she would have to figure out childcare for her primary school age children and find a place to stay.
She arrived at Edinburgh Airport last August to find the city full of tourists and had nowhere to stay. So she slept with her children, daughters Chisom, 12, Chidera, nine, and sons Kachi, seven, and Taul, five, in the terminal.
She said: “It was really scary, but I had to do it.”
Eventually she found help from the Redeem Christian Church in Gorgie Road. The pastor offered the family a temporary room.
Favour then set about finding part-time work as a carer so she could pay her own way.
She said: “It was scary and hard, but you do what you have to do. I would go to university while the children were at school and find someone to look after them for me so I could then go to work.
“I’d come home, make them dinner and wait until they were sleeping before I’d sit down to write my essays. I struggled with some work because it was so difficult trying to fit everything in. If I wasn’t looking after the children or working, I was in the library. I was always the last person to leave.”
Other lone mums on Favour’s course gave up. But she promised she’d keep going. Six months after she arrived Favour was offered a home in Sighthill.
Now she says she wants to encourage other single mums to follow their dreams, and keep going even when times get tough.
She said: “I took as many jobs as I could. It was hard, the children wanted my attention, they wanted to go back to Ireland, but I knew I had to keep going. Now I feel like I’ve won the jackpot.”
Favour, who is originally from Nigeria and whose husband Philamon, 52, is working in America, now has a job as a nurse at the Western General.
She said: “My dream has come true. I finished despite the odds. So many people thought I was mad to try to do this in a strange city with four children and nowhere to live. I’m proof that if you work hard and are determined, you can make your dreams come true.”