Disillusioned by the lack of perspectives in Pakistan, having an MBA under his belt, and carrying the weighty expectations of his family on his shoulders, Shabab set off on the gruelling journey to Austria from Lahore in 2013. Soon after his arrival, Shabab realised that his dream of pursuing further studies and becoming financially stronger to support his family of six came with more complications than he had initially bargained for.
Instead of attending university, Shabab found himself working as a newspaper distributor, often under exploitative conditions. Three years went by and the hope of building up a better life was fading by the day, until Shabab decided to take a decisive step and one which surely did not come easy: he decided to return to Pakistan.
“I saw my future being blocked there, which is why I started thinking about going back and starting everything from scratch, whether it be education or some business, whatever it is I want to do I wanted to do it in a proper and legal way. This is why I returned.”
In order to facilitate his reintegration in Pakistan, Shabab decided to participate in the ‘RESTART' programme*. As the sole breadwinner of the family, it enabled Shabab to start a small textile shop in Lahore. He is currently earning enough to make ends meets and despite the many ups and downs that came with his migration experience, he is still hopeful that the future has bigger and better things in store for him.
“For the future I think this business is running well, and I will continue running it to support my family. I am thinking of getting further education, whether here or somewhere abroad, but this will take time, perhaps six months or a year. Let’s see.”
*Reintegration Assistance for Voluntary Returnees to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Russian Federation / the Chechen Republic project (co-funded by the Austrian Ministry of the Interior and the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union). RESTART beneficiaries receive a EUR 500 cash grant and in-kind assistance of up to EUR 2,800 for pursuing income generating activities after their return.