Chad, 4 September 2023 - Sitting on a raffia chair in his house located in Atrone, a suburb of the Chadian capital, Cheick, a 36-year-old man, thinks over his future.

In early 2017, his life was turned upside down when he lost his job at an NGO, his only source of income that allowed him to meet his needs and support his two children. Distraught, Cheikh decided to drop everything and leave Chad in search of a better life.

“When I lost my job, I decided to migrate to earn money and support my family and myself,” he says.

Like many young Chadians of his generation, Cheikh dreamed of going to Europe. Without the acurate information, he decided to embark on the desert route leading to Algeria. But when he got there, his dream faded as the reality was completely different.

“My documents were not valid when I arrived in Algiers,” he recalls. “Furthermore, I noticed that there were too many risks on the road, so I decided to stay in Algeria,” he adds.

In Algiers, Cheick worked as an assistant electrician for three years. However, despite having a livelihood, he lived in fear and anxiety. “Even though I earned something in Algeria, the stress and fear of getting caught were unbearable.”

So, Saleh drew on all his courage and decided to return to his native country.

With IOM’s support, Saleh was able to return to Chad under the assisted voluntary return programme for migrants in vulnerable situation. Back in N’Djamena, he was relieved from stress.

“I was very happy to be reunited with my mum, my wife and my daughters, and I also felt a deep feeling of joy in them at seeing me again,” he recalls.

Six months after his return, Saleh received reintegration assistance to start anew. “I wanted to be a creative entrepreneur, so the sound system and technological equipment I received was very helpful. I was solicited for several events, and even awareness-raising sessions about safe migration.”

Unfortunately, with all his success, Saleh was saddled with debt that caused him to lose his capital. “I left on a trip and entrusted my business to my younger brothers, who failed to manage it properly, which ruined my business.”

In his workshop in the Atrone district of N’Djamena, Cheikh works as a tailor after returning from his “adventure”

Despite this adversity, Saleh remained strong and determined to achieve success. He courageously decided to sell his remaining equipment and buy sewing machines to switch to tailoring business, a flourishing sector in his neighbourhood.

“When I was younger, I learned to sew, but I didn’t want to make a living out of it because being an interpreter paid better, but today things are different. The tailoring business works well, and I earn a comfortable living.”

Today, despite challenges related to this job, Saleh remains optimistic and proud of his work.

“Even though conditions are not yet perfect, I’m married and I have children to support, so I have to work to meet their needs, and I know that I’ll make it with time,” he says.

A father of two, Cheikh dropped everything in 2017 in search of a better life. Back in Chad, he is gradually starting anew

Saleh’s ambition is to expand his tailoring workshop by buying large equipment from abroad and recruiting several people, as he dreams of having a large workshop like he has already seen in other places. As part of the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration programme under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, IOM Chad has supported more than 2,800 Chadians since 2017 in implementing their socio-economic reintegration plans.

This story was written by TANNONE Adeline.

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