A tree begins with a seed: a young Nigerian student's story of return

Posted on: 2017/9/20 04:37

Faisal* , a young Nigerian student, came to study Arabic at Egypt's Al-Azhar University. After several years, before his period of study ended, he needed to find a suitable job in order to make a living. His only sources of income came from informal means, in addition to support from his community and a small scholarship from the Higher Islamic Council. Soon after he had started studying, Faisal’s wife Iman , joined him in Cairo. Towards the end of Faisal’s study, Iman’s parents bought her a ticket to return to Nigeria. Faisal couldn’t even think about buying a ticket for himself, since he was struggling to make a living, and so the couple were separated by their circumstance.

Faisal* , a young Nigerian student, came to study Arabic at Egypt's Al-Azhar University. After several years, before his period of study ended, he needed to find a suitable job to make a living. His only sources of income were informal means, in addition to support from his community and a small scholarship from the Higher Islamic Council. Soon after he had started studying, Faisal’s wife Iman joined him in Cairo. Towards the end of Faisal’s study, Iman’s parents bought her a ticket to return to Nigeria. Faisal couldn’t even think about buying a ticket for himself, since he was struggling to make a living, and so the couple was separated by their circumstance.

“At some point” – said Faisal – “I realised I couldn’t live in Cairo anymore without a steady job. I was living with six other roommates in a small apartment and I couldn’t afford a better place.”

It was at that time when Faisal approached IOM to ask for assistance. As Faisal wanted to continue to try and make his situation in Egypt work, IOM assisted him under the localised assistance programme to help him with his basic needs and to gain back stability in Egypt. During this time, he learned about the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme through IOM’s caseworkers and information brochures. After exhausting all possibilities in Egypt, he decided to go back to Nigeria to be with his family. Faisal was assisted by IOM with a flight ticket, pocket money, pre-departure medical screening, airport assistance and a reintegration grant to support him in the beginning of hisnew life.

When Faisal returned, he met with an IOM caseworker in Nigeria and discussed his options on how to start a business. Eventually, he decided to pursue his passion for technology and opened a computer shop. Along with the help of his family, IOM provided rent support. Through discussions with his caseworker, Faisal identified the lack of consistent power supply in his country as one of the biggest struggles that his shop would encounter, so he decided to buy a generator to solve this problem.

“(AVRR) is a very helpful programme; without it, I would have been very frustrated upon my return to Nigeria because things are really difficult here. I am very grateful for the assistance IOM has given me so far; I would like to expand my business into a big cyber café”.

Entrepreneurship is difficult, but as a popular Arabic proverb says, “a tree begins with a seed”.

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the beneficiary

AVRR Egypt is composed of our core support teams that work tirelessly to support the return and reintegration of migrants. If you would like to contribute or request more information about this programme, please get in touch with us via , or .