Farhad Ahmad (28) was destitute, living for 19 years in Iran as a refugee. As a child, he dropped out of school to work and support his family. In February, when Iran went under lockdown after the coronavirus outbreak, Farhad lost his job. He along with his family were forced to return to Afghanistan. After registering at the Islam Qala border, Farhad, father of two young children, was referred to IOM’s Protection programme and received cash assistance to buy food and medication to meet their immediate needs.
“When I returned to Afghanistan, I was without employment, nor a place to live. My brother-in-law offered us shelter and I received cash from IOM. It helped me to survive the initial days of my return, but I needed a source of income to support my family, " says Farhad.
During his interaction with the IOM Protection team, Farhad was informed about IOM’s Reintegration Assistance and Development in Afghanistan (RADA) project and was happy to be referred. The RADA project’s field staff in Mazar Sharief introduced him to Bashir Ahmad Sidiqi Shoe Production Company and secured him a job.
IOM partnered with the Bashir Shoe Company providing business development assistance, in order to create employment for Afghan returnees in communities in Mazar.
Farhad, who had only worked as a labourer in Iran, learnt the art of shoemaking. Acquiring these new skills, while also securing stable employment, has boosted Farhad’s confidence. “I am happy [with] the employment opportunity, especially the skills I am learning through the job,” said Farhad. He is keen on learning more about shoemaking. One day, Farhad hopes to start his own business which if successful would mean he would not need to migrate to Iran in search of employment ever again.
IOM Afghanistan is supporting undocumented Afghan returnees to access vital Protection services thanks to EU Humanitarian Aid and supporting the sustainable reintegration of returnees within their communities of return with the financial assistance of the European Union through the RADA project.