Rahima was only 18 years old when she became an orphan in war-torn Afghanistan together with her 15-year-old sister Laimah. The situation in the country was bad and so the sisters decided to flee to Iran where their uncle lived with his family. Without any money and documents they managed to arrive to Iran after many days of tortuous journey with the help of smugglers. Upon their arrival the sisters’ uncle pledged to repay the debt they incurred during the journey. Even though they succeeded to escape from Afghanistan, their life in Iran was not easy. They felt committed to their uncle who took care of them as much as he could.
Siblings Adam and Majka left for England together with Robo who was their relative. He suggested to their mother that he would accommodate both of them at his place and would help them find a job through an employment agency. Their mother trusted him enough to allow her children to go with him.
“I would like to work in the health sector and help people,“ says 27-year-old Nadif with a hope in his voice. He is worried that he has had to rely on the help of others until now. He had to leave his home in Somalia when he was only 10. As he admits, unlike many others, he was lucky to come to the refugee camp in Eritrea together with his entire family. The life in camp was modest and monotonous and the conditions of an Eritrean dessert made it also very harsh.
Fereshteh was born in 1971 in Afghanistan, but war drove her out of her home and she fled to Iran. Here she spent more than half of her life. She was accompanied by her future husband when escaping to Iran, later their close relatives joined them in the country. They spent the first few months in a refugee camp, later they rented a small apartment. But life in Iran was difficult. Neither Fereshteh nor her husband managed to obtain legal documents for stay or work.
Ms. My left her native Vietnam and departed for Russia to help her sister. Ms. My lived with her son for some time in Moscow where she worked in a garment factory. “I did not have enough money and experience to do my own business,” she said.
Mr. Xuan Quynh lived in Slovakia for more than four years. Initially, he aimed to work in the United Kingdom in order to earn money for his family. “I only got stuck in Bratislava as I could not afford to pay for the whole trip,” he said. He did not have legal residence permit in the country. “It was difficult for me to live in a foreign country without my family, my wife and children. Since they really needed me, I decided to return home,” he added.
Mr. Minh left Vietnam in 2008 and he came legally to work in Slovakia. He was employed as a factory worker. In order to get this job, he ran up debts and when the factory closed down due to the crisis, he found himself in a hopeless situation and without any money for returning home."When my residence permit became invalid, I earned some little money working as a construction worker or as a waiter in restaurant, but I did not feel good," he says.He could not work, travel or go shopping without the fear of being arrested.
Marek from eastern Slovakia found himself in financial troubles. To solve them, he was looking for a job but with no success. In summer 2013, he was approached by Laco – his acquaintance who had already been living in England for a long time and came to Slovakia just for holidays. He offered Marek an opportunity to earn some money in Bradford working as a construction worker. Marek was told that he could live at Laco’s place and did not have to arrange anything apart from getting to the place. Marek liked the offer so he left Slovakia.
Mr. Vitalie left Southeast Moldova in order to search for work in Slovakia. Southeast Moldova is industrially one of the least developed and poorest countries in Europe. He lived in Slovakia for two months illegally. He could not find any work and decided to return home with the assistance of International Organization for Migration (IOM). After his return IOM provided him with support which helped him to expand his family’s farm specialised in growing fruit trees seedlings. He sells cherry pear and apple seedlings in the marketplace in Chisinau. The assistance provided by IOM allowed Vitalie and his family to gain an important source of income and a life with dignity. “I am satisfied with provided help. I do not want to go back abroad and I recommend anyone who is illegally in Europe to return through IOM,” says Vitalie.
Alexander had lived in Moldova – Transnistria region. He went abroad and worked three years in various European countries as a welder, mechanic and constructions worker. He arrived in Slovakia in February in search for a job. Since he had no residence permit, the Alien police detained him and placed him in a detention centre for aliens in Secovce where he was awaiting his deportation from Slovakia. Following the information meeting during which the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Programme (AVRR) was presented to him, the returnee decided to return home with the assistance of IOM and registered into the AVRR programme. The information meetings on AVRR are organised by IOM staff in detention centres for aliens in Secovce and Medvedov.