The European Network on Return and Reintegration has worked with International Returns and Reintegration Assistance (IRARA) and its local partner, Afghanistan Center for Excellence (ACE), to support returning Afghans. See how ERRIN assisted Diana and Abdul upon their return from Europe.
Diana was 29 when she decided to leave Afghanistan seeking education opportunities in Europe. Soon after arriving in Germany, she realised the reality was very different from the stories heard back home – as well as her expectations. She spent the first year living in different reception and accommodation centres around the country.
Even though she eventually obtained a temporary residence permit allowing her to stay in Germany for three years, homesickness crept in. She was missing her family and fiancée whom she had left behind in Afghanistan. The idea of coming back, very vague at first, shaped a final decision to return to Kabul in December 2017.
Back in Afghanistan, with support from the ERRIN programme, Diana purchased a car that she now leases to drivers providing transportation services in Kabul’s most popular areas. She says that the business generates a good amount of money, allowing her to make a decent income.
Abdul has always been passionate about sports – the moment he decided to travel to France, he already had seven years of experience as a fitness coach and held a black belt in Taekwondo. However, when the Afghan war interrupted his studies at the Kabul University, he decided to seek a better future in Europe.
The journey through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Austria and Italy ended up costing Abdul more than 15,000 euros. Following the rejection of his asylum claim, Abdul asked the French government for assistance to return to Afghanistan. “My decision to leave Afghanistan was wrong in the first place,” he says. “I could have started a good business with the money I paid to smugglers. But thanks to the financial assistance received from ERRIN I can now try to get my life back on track.”
The counselling sessions organised by ACE inspired Abdul to build on his past professional experience: managing gym facilities, bookkeeping, sales and marketing. He realised that he had all the potential and skills necessary to create a successful business and attract members to his newly opened gym. Abdul says he likes his business due to its flexible working hours. His clients are mostly Afghan young men who often also become good friends. New friendships, independent income and the very ability to work again make him look into the future with full optimism.
This story has been reproduced courtesy of IRARA.