IOM The Gambia
“Thanks to this project, I have earned the respect of the community. Now I can do things I would not have been able to do.”
“Before I left for Europe in 2018, I had no job and my family was struggling to make ends meet. I dreamt of earning enough income to support my family through the backway, but it was a tough journey. After a year in Libya, I made numerous attempts to cross the Mediterranean, but there was no way to go through the sea. In 2019, I decided to return to The Gambia.
When I returned to my hometown of Kundam, Upper River Region, my mother was so excited I was alive. For other community members and friends, though, I “failed”. Some mocked me because I didn’t reach Europe. However, I always avoided allowing these opinions to shape my future, so I started doing menial jobs to support my family. Upon return, I attended a business and entrepreneurial training with two other returnees and five community members. We decided to partner to set-up a community reintegration project, then secured a set of three multi-purpose milling machines and a trimming machine. The income we generated has been very impactful for me, my family and the community. Moreover, the milling machines have improved food security in our community. Thanks to this project, I have earned the respect of the community. As a returnee settling back in, this is really important to me. Now, I can do things I would not have been able to do.
Due to COVID-19, however, our business has been affected. People are not coming as usual or they do not have money to pay for the milling. This is unfortunate, as we have to buy fuel for the machines and face production costs. To safeguard our business, we mill for some of our customers on credit and we allow payments in coos, maize or millet to sell them in Basse when better times come. This way, we can continue making a living.”