Having to leave your country is very difficult, especially if you are separated from your family and have no idea of their whereabouts. That is what happened to Elizabeth, a 49-year-old Nigerian woman.
In early 2010, her house and flower shop in Kaduna were attacked by Boko Haram. She had no choice but to leave Kaduna and move to Lagos. For two years, she was unable to contact or locate her parents, husband and children whom she had been separated from during the attacks. During her time in Lagos, being a regular attendee of the Church, she was asked by someone during the service if she would like to travel to Egypt to find work. Without dependents and family to support nor a regular job in Lagos, she agreed to explore her opportunities outside of Nigeria. In October 2010, Elizabeth moved to Egypt. She stayed for almost eight years, where she initially found a job cleaning for an Egyptian family. It wasn’t a steady job and she received only 80 EGP per day. This amount on a part-time basis only, did not allow her to support herself, pay rent and even afford food. After two years, a friend within the Nigerian community in Egypt decided to return to Nigeria, coincidently to the same village where she discovered her parents were residing. She shared her contact details and asked her friend to share it with her parents back in Nigeria. She was finally able to speak to her parents, who then connected her to her husband and children. For the next 6 years, she struggled to secure work in Egypt, survive and send money back to her family. She found it more and more difficult to find jobs here and there – she was told she was too old to work and that she would no longer be hired by Egyptian families to clean. That’s when she decided to go back to Nigeria and reunite with her family. In August 2018, Elizabeth approached IOM and expressed her intention to go back to Nigeria. By November, she was on a plane back home. She contacted IOM Lagos immediately upon her return to begin her reintegration assistance. She was assisted by IOM reintegration staff who counselled her on approaches to her business idea and what documentation she would need to start her business. Since Elizabeth had experience in trade before leaving Nigeria, she knew she wanted to start a small shop selling food items and beverages. Three months after her return, Elizabeth became a shop owner.
Through her daily profits, Elizabeth is now able to support herself and 8 members of her family. Elizabeth’s husband is retired and unable to contribute income. She thus has become the sole provider for her family, with her daughter assisting in running the business. Elizabeth and her family are reunited again and making ends meet in their home country. She aspires to expand her business and provide a wider range of products to her community. When asked what advice she can give to Nigerians abroad, “home is home, no better place than home”
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 .
Data from 2011 – 2015 includes Return only. Data from 2016 – 2018 includes Return and Reintegration.
This AVRR Map was designed and developed pro bono by SilverKey Technologies