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"My suitcase is the only thing that reminds me of my experience abroad."
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Ilir knows how to make a good espresso. Together with his father, Ilir runs a coffee bar in the outskirts of Fier, in the southern part of Albania.

The suburbs of the Albanian cities grew dramatically in the 90's due to a large internal migration from the country’s mountainous and remote areas. In most cases, suburban areas developed irregularly without proper planning or adequate services. Increasingly populated and affected by a very high unemployment rate among the youth, these areas are fertile grounds for emigration.

Ilir has a younger sister, a very young mother and a strong and protective father. They live in a one-storey house, with a single room with kitchenette, which turns into Ilir and his sister’s bedroom after dinner. The mother takes care of the housework, while his father used to work occasionally hardly affording the family’s basic needs.  

When only 17 Ilir decided to look for a better future and support his family by irregularly migrating to Norway in search of a job to send money home. However, he soon realized he could not remain there and that returning home was the only option he had. The only thing that reminds him of his migration experience is the suitcase, which he departed and returned with.

“When I was abroad I missed my family a lot," Ilir said. "But the support I received* permitted me to archive the goal I set for myself before departure and also allowed me to stay close to the family.”

The coffee bar doesn't have many customers, but the number is increasing every day. Ilir and his father also run a football field next to the bar.

In the mornings children from the nearby school play various sports while in the afternoons and evenings amateur players often use it. When the field is empty and there are few customers at the bar, Ilir takes the ball and goes to take some shots at the goal.


*IOM helped Ilir and his family open and manage a coffee bar through the payment of the rent and the purchase of some furniture. After the initial start-up period, the revenue is now sufficient to cover the café’s operating expenses and ensure a fixed and solid income for the family.  


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