Kazi Sabuj, a 31-year-old who returned from Germany, lives in the village of Chornol in Burichang Upazila of Cumilla District. Before Kazi left for Germany, his father was the only earner in their family of nine. Kazi was in fourth grade at school when he became involved with some peers who had a bad influence on him and pushed him to discontinue his studies. Because Chornol is close to the border with India, he could easily cross back and forth to India. He crossed into India in September 2004, at the age of 13, with the assistance of an Indian acquaintance. He then travelled to Pakistan. His command of Hindi helped him remain in both India and Pakistan.

He engaged in some agricultural work during his nine-month stay in Pakistan. But he could not settle there. He decided to relocate to Iran, but as soon as he crossed the border into Iran, the police arrested him for entering the country without permission.

He was released after a few months. But his world was turned upside down when he was kidnapped by mafia associates. The group imprisoned him in a room and demanded a large sum of money.

Sabuj was brutally tortured and, at one point, shot because he could not pay the ransom. Realizing he did not actually have access to the funds they were demanding, the kidnappers eventually released him. 

He then entered Turkey and stayed there for 10 months, where life in Europe started to fascinate him. In 2011, with the help of a Pakistani friend, he left Turkey and reached Greece by boat. In 2014, Sabuj decided to go to Germany as suggested by friends.

He travelled to Germany passing through Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia, Hungary, and Austria. In Germany, he stayed at Mönchengladbach. He first spent two years in a shelter before finally getting a work permit from the government. He initially got a job at a food production plant earning EUR 1,600  per month, but after a few days he left the job due to the heavy workload. Kazi Sabuj couldn't get permanent residency in Germany, and in March 2019 he was arrested and returned to Bangladesh.

After his return, he found everything had changed, as he had left the country during his childhood. He faced challenges coping with the environment. He started to have physical and mental problems, including having difficulty sleeping and eating. 

He was eventually identified and profiled under the Prottasha project. Following a consultation, the Prottasha team at the Reintegration Service Center in Cumilla created a tailored reintegration plan for Kazi  Shabuj. According to the plan, he was initially given psychological counselling. After the third session of counselling, he began to feel psychologically strong and began to rebuild his lost confidence.

He was then counselled on economic assistance and was asked  if  he wanted to develop a business plan. Kazi Sabuj expressed his interest in starting an avian business  focusing on pigeons. As a result, he was assisted under the Prottasha project where he was provided 170 pigeons valued at BDT 70,000 (EUR 690) as in-kind support for his bird- rearing business.  The business has since grown successfully enabling him to expand into another venture.

He has also invested in an ornamental fish business with the profit he made from the bird- rearing business. Sabuj currently earns an average of BDT 25,000–30,000 (EUR 246-296) per month and wants to grow his businesses to provide jobs for others.

Kazi Sabuj has received training on financial literacy, remittance management, and entrepreneurial development from the Prottasha project so that he can run his business efficiently. On top of that, the RSC in Cumilla referred him to the District Youth Development Office in Cumilla, where he managed to enroll in a three-month course on livestock rearing.

Kazi Sabuj stated,
“I am grateful to the Prottasha project and for the great assistance I received through it. The manner in which the Prottasha has helped me during my darkest days is truly incredible and unforgettable.”

The story is written by Md Sariful Islam, National Communications Officer, IOM Bangladesh.

SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities