Anahit left Armenia in September 2017 due to medical problems. The family sold animal stock to cover the costs of travelling to Europe and the medical expenses. She found the life in Belgium to be expensive, and medical treatments did not live up to her expectations. In addition to this she missed her family back in Armenia. Through IOM’s return-partner in Mechelen she received information about the possibility to return and receive assistance through the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Programme. Accordingly, an appointment was made with an IOM counselor that visited her to go discuss her possible return more detailed. Anahit returned to her home village Oganavan in early July 2018, reuniting with her husband and son.
Upon arrival she got in touch with IOM Armenia further discuss her plans. The family is active in cattle-breeding and agriculture (fruits and seeds) and sells their production directly on a market in Yerevan. She decided to use most of the re-integration assistance fund to buy cattle. Additionally, the assistance helped her cover a minor surgery. IOM Armenia, through the Job Placement Project, is currently looking how to secure the future of the family business. They are looking into trainings and means on how to improve the production and conservation processes of milk and cheese.
Vakhtang, an Armenian artist (audio visual), left Armenia in 2011 after encountering several difficulties related to his art and migrated to Belgium with his girlfriend and her two children, as well as his mother. Being a member of the Artist’s Union of Armenia (UNESCO), he explored that channel to find work in the European Union, however the guidelines to pursue with this practice turned out to be more difficult than initially expected. Not being able to regularize his situation in Belgium he took the decision to return to Armenia.
Vakhtang had previous work experience as a computer designer in the multimedia company he had founded with ex-colleagues, and wished to get back to work. He took the opportunity offered by the AVRR B-connected project and applied for the Wage Subsidy reintegration package during the pre-departure counselling with the IOM Brussels reintegration specialist in Armenia and the Caucuses region. In parallel, his mother discussed her medical needs upon return.
They returned at the start of May 2014, resided with some friends upon arrival and contacted IOM Yerevan within two weeks for post-return counselling and orientation during which it was identified that the most present need was for accommodation. Upon submission of the rental agreements, IOM covered for ten months of rent. In parallel, Vakhtang managed to be re-employed in his past job with a six months contract from June to November. IOM provided him with a salary top up of EUR 250 per month to facilitate his reintegration. His mother, Mrs. AGHANYAN, was reimbursed her first six months of medication supply.
The case was monitored by IOM and Fedasil in October 2014 and in June 2015 in the context of Belgium Monitoring Missions in the field. Vakhtang was still employed but the multimedia company was not doing well due to poor demand/ contracts. He explained that, looking back, he would now be more inclined to invest in the agricultural field and his current ambition was to start a goat rearing business. Vakhtang still looks back positively at his experience in Belgium and hopes that the Armenian economy will grow in the coming years, so work opportunities expand locally for Armenians.