"I was forced to return to Bangladesh from France in 2017 as I was an irregular migrant and did not have a legal work permit. My family was disappointed in me because I returned empty handed. I was almost on the edge of depression, but the Prottasha Project provided me a chance to reconcile with my family and assisted me with establishing a business venture. I am grateful to the Prottasha project for the much needed assistance in getting my life back on track. I am positive that the project will benefit many other returnees like me."
Shimul Halder, a Bangladeshi migrant, originally from Tongibari Upazila in Munshiganj district, received an education up to the eighth grade only. Like many other Bangladeshi migrants, Halder was swayed by a middlemen and he contracted the middleman paying him BDT 1,200,000 (EUR 12,085) to send him to Europe. He managed his migration cost by selling his brother's shop.
Shimul Halder, at first, migrated to Italy expecting to change his fortune in 2011. But his dreams were soon shattered when he discovered that his salary was far less compared to what he was originally promised by the sub-agent. He could barely cover his muumuu expenses in Italy. Then he decided to move to France following a short stint in Italy. Unfortunately, life in France was not as smooth as he had expected. He went through so many hurdles in France as he could not manage to find a better job. Halder used to work as a seasonal worker, selling flowers, working as a street hawker in Paris, and then finally ended up getting a job at a restaurant. Halder's misfortunes continued unfortunately and which resulted in him returning to Bangladesh as he did not have legal documents to stay on in France permanently.
Upon his arrival in Bangladesh, Shimul Halder wanted to start a business but was unable to do so owing to the lack of sufficient capital to invest. In June 2019, he happened to see a video show organized under the Prottasha project in Tongibari Upzilla at the local Bazar of Bailgaon. He came to know about the different services offered under the project supporting the reintegration of Bangladeshi returnees from EU countries. The Prottasha project carried out 3,162 video shows to date.
Halder was initially identified as an eligible beneficiary under the Prottasha project through the video show initiative, following which the Prottasha staff communicated with Halder and conducted the screening process to confirm him as a beneficiary. He was then connected with the Reintegration Service Center (RSC) in Munshiganj where he was assisted with psycho-social services provided by the counsellor from the Prottasha project. The psyco-social services assisted him to communicate with his family and reduce his anxiety and stress. He began to feel comfortable, hopeful and active again. Halder also received medical services under the Prottasha project through referral linkages.
Halder also received in-kind assistance to the value of BDT 100,000 (EUR 1007) under the Prottasha project which enabled him to start his business in 2019. He now generates an income between approx. BDT 15,000 (EUR 151) and BDT 20,000 (EUR 201) per month. The Prottasha project is helping him to reintegrate into society.
The story is written by Md Sariful Islam, National Communications Officer, IOM Bangladesh.