17 Jan 2021
By: IOM Bangladesh

Hasan Ali (26) returned from Austria in 2019 and was interviewed and accessed reintegration support from Prottasha Project. Being the youngest amongst 12 brothers and sisters, it was tough for Ali to continue his education beyond the SSC examination. As Ali’s parents, Abul Hossen and Monoara Khatun, had to take care of 14 family members, he felt a tremendous pressure to become economically independent and support his parents. He realized that some people from his community who worked abroad, became economically better off.

Ali’s life in Austria began with a job as a paper supplier and without any legal documents. Three (3) years went by and he switched from being a paper supplier to a restaurant job. Ali got caught by the local law enforcement officers without any legal documents to stay in Austria and was sent back to Bangladesh in a chartered flight on 11 December 2019.

After returning, Ali was determined that he will settle down in Bangladesh. However, he was overwhelmed with guilt as he spent more than he could send back to his family. With BDT 900,000 remittance, he could not bring his family out of their struggles.

Nevertheless, he decided to establish his own nursery of a variety of fruits such as Guava, Palm, Lemon and others. His mother, out of her great interest in his idea, allowed him to use the land she inherited but he realized that he needed more capital to buy raw materials and other tools.

RSC Khulna identified Hasan Ali on 28th January of 2020 through its regular process of returnee identification. And upon getting more information about the Prottasha project reintegration services, Ali took the services offered under reintegration support. First, he was set up for psycho-social support from RSC Khulna to help him regain his confidence and mental stability. He attended two sessions with the counsellor physically and due to Covid-19 movement restrictions, Ali remained under the supervision over the phone by the counsellor and continued to receive counselling sessions. The sessions he received helped him a lot to regain his confidence. He began working on his economic reintegration plan with the District Manager.

In order to avoid the risk of spreading the coronavirus, the District Manager continued to prepare the economic support plan over the phone as agreed by all project staff. The District Manager and Hasan Ali held online meetings several times as it was risky meeting face-to-face and he indicated that he required support to expand his nursery business.

Accordingly, the project supported the plan by providing BDT 80,000 for buying wire enclosure (BDT 60,000) and fertilizer (BDT 20,000) for Hasan Ali’s nursery. A three-member purchase committee was formed and on 4 September 2020, Ali finally received the support from the project through Khulna RSC. He said, “I feel extremely lucky to be one of the beneficiaries of the Prottasha Project.”

However, he too like many other beneficiaries, fell victim to COVID-19 induced circumstances which hampered the flow of his business. He ended up spending the capital he had earned to bear the cost of daily family expenses. To help him sustain his livelihood and overcome any future uncertainties, he received an additional BDT 10,000 as stimulus grant.

Hasan Ali is now being continuously supported by the RSC Manager, District Manager as well as the Counsellor. He indicated that, “I am now doing much better after receiving the stimulus grant from Prottasha Project during the lockdown situation due to COVID-19.” RSC Khulna has not only enlisted him for Financial Literacy Training in the coming months but also signed him up for Community Enterprise to ensure a sustainable reintegration.

SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities