A Gambian welding graduate with his start-up kit. Credit: IOM/2019 Mariam Njai
A Gambian welding graduate with his start-up kit. Credit: IOM/2019 Mariam Njai

The UN agency International Organization for Migration (IOM) is promoting a program in Gambia together with the private sector and government authorities to train migrants who have voluntarily returned to their home country and help them settle back. As of March 19, 2019, 101 returnees graduated from a three-month-long training program in sectors including construction, carpentry, electronics, mechanics, plumbing, tailoring and welding, IOM said. They were the second group of students to graduate in four months.

In June 2018, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) signed an agreement with the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSS), under the Ministry of Youth and Sports, to provide Technical and Vocational Educational Training (TVET) to 200 Gambian migrants who have returned to their home country, IOM said in a recent statement. Through this agreement, NYSS taps into the expertise of four private companies and two government training centers to deliver training in various skill areas to returnees. 


On March 19 this year, 101 trainees officially graduated after a three-month-long course in sectors including construction, carpentry, electronics, mechanics, plumbing, tailoring and welding, IOM said. Each of them will receive a start-up kit with the basic materials and tools necessary to set up a workshop in their chosen sector, according to the statement. 

The story of Abba Wollow 

Abba Wollow is one of the 101 young Gambians to complete the program. IOM said in a statement that Abba left his country in 2016, hoping to reach Europe. ''I left The Gambia because the small garage I was working on was not enough to support my family," he explained. ''I left to find something better for them." 

His journey ended in Libya, where he remained for two years, in and out of prison. ''When I came back, I was still finding ways to support my family," he said of the struggles he faced after voluntarily returning home in February 2018. ''I am thankful for the opportunity to undergo a three-month training in mechanics." 

Know-how for a fresh start in their country 

IOM stressed that the graduation, the second one in four months, showed its commitment to the sustainable reintegration of more than 3,600 Gambians who have voluntarily returned from Libya and Niger since 2017. ''We recognized the massive potential and willingness of returnees to 'make it in The Gambia', needing just a final push to gain meaningful, employable skills'', Fumiko Nagano, IOM Chief of Mission in the Gambia, was quoted as saying in the statement. 

"We, as the private sector, are able to provide returnees with skills or facilitate their job placement. This will give them a livelihood they can depend on," Jean Abel Thomas of the Fajara Skills Development Centre was quoted as saying by IOM. "We teach our trainees that, if you have the skills, you can turn them into something profitable," she added. Last November, 13 Gambians formed the first group of trainees to graduate from a poultry farming and business start-up program.
 

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