Adesho had been working since he was a child and thought overseas employment would help him break out of the poverty trap. He suffered horrible torture aboard a ship for months before being rescued. Now he has opened his own shop with support and feels he has a new lease on life.
“I was prisoner on a ship for many months.”
Adesho Borua had five brothers and six sisters. His father was a poor farmer and often there was not enough food for him to eat a proper meal. When he was old enough to help out, he began taking the cow out for grazing and bathing. While doing so, he watched the men working at a nearby auto repair workshop. The owner of the workshop noticed his interest and offered him an apprenticeship so when Adesho was eight years old, he began working at the shop. His Ustad, Ronjon Borua was a kind man and taught him all he knew, for free, since he was his maternal uncle. Later Adesho got a job at another repair shop and helped support his younger siblings.
Source: IOM KAP Survey 2017
One day, Adesho received a phone call from a dalal in Malaysia who had received his number from a friend. The dalal offered him a job abroad. Adesho was tired, having worked in a repair shop for over ten years already, so he agreed, excited to see what new opportunities lay ahead. He went to the agreed upon location to meet the dalal. There he was locked up in a mud room with six other boys. His phone was taken from him, and his father was called up and asked for 20,000 bdt, as ransom for his life. Adesho’s older brother delivered the money, but Adesho was not set free. Instead, Adesho and 11 other boys were loaded onto a small wooden trawler with an engine and taken to a larger ship.
This ship had 860 young men aboard against their will. 300 were Rohingyas, the remaining were Bangladeshis. The crew, armed with knives, swords and guns, was made up of 12 Mongs who could not speak Bengali and one Rohingya who could.
The next few months aboard the ship were hell. If anyone disobeyed the crew, they were beaten to a pulp. They were fed twice a day, a handful of rice and half glass of water. They were allowed to urinate, in a designated spot above the deck, only twice a day. Even that privilege was cancelled if any other ships were in visible distance.
Below the deck, where they spent all day and night, there was not enough room to lie stretched out. They remained hunched in a squat the whole time, making their limbs scream with pain. People got ill, diarrhea and vomiting was common.
They reached Thailand but there the border guards shot guns at them. The dalals jumped off and escaped in getaway vessels. They had taught a few of the prisoners how to navigate the ship, so these few were now at the helm. They managed to navigate to the coast of Myanmar and land. There they were rounded up by the Navy and kept in a detention camp for four months.
Finally, with support from IOM, the UN Migration Agency, they were repatriated to Bangladesh by bus, across the border.
Here, IOM – The UN Migration Agency’s project, building the Lives of Returning Migrants, funded by DIBP Australia, then supported him to rebuild his life. After return, the project team worked with him to understand his conditions, area of interest for work, capacity, constraints and dreams. He received individual assistance in two forms: household assistance and capital injection. He used this capital injection to set up a repair shop. The household assistance was to support his family.
“I am lucky to have a second chance to rebuild my life.”
Since he had never ran a business before, he lacked knowledge on finance and entrepreneurship. So, the project provided him with training on financial literacy, business development and entrepreneurship. He also received training on safe migration, household gardening and compost preparation.
He was also introduced to local traders and businessmen to support him with forward and backward linkage for his business. He has formed a group with other returnees in his area of residence. Together they are now more organized, have better communication skills and better knowledge on how to run their own businesses. Now he thinks about his future and has a proper plan based on the yearlong counselling he received.
Now Adesho is married and has a baby girl who is 11 months.