Story
05 Sep 2016
By: IOM Belgium

Before emigrating, Alek lived with his parents and sister and was preparing for his upcoming marriage when suddenly he discovered that he was suffering from Hepatitis C. At that time – it is only since the beginning of 2015 that Georgia set up a special and free treatment program for Hepatitis C – there were no government free programs to treat this medical condition. Feeling hopeless and discouraged, Alek felt like he had only two choices: to stay in his country and suffer from this illness or to go abroad for treatment.

Finally, he made up his mind, left his family and his girlfriend and went to Europe, where he got an initial specialized treatment. After about two years in Europe and having recovered he decided to come back to Georgia, as his girlfriend was waiting for him. Alek finally returned through the Voluntary Return and Reintegration program from Belgium to Georgia in December 2014.

Back in Georgia, in early 2015, Alek was enrolled for several months in a methadone treatment program for additional follow-up and steadily, as his health was improving, dosages were decreased until he was finally able to leave the program. In February 2015, he also underwent surgery on his thyroid glands, as a part of the medical treatment he could benefit from reintegration assistance.

Having tended to his medical concerns in the first place and feeling healthier again, Alek decided to become self-sufficient and to buy a second-hand vehicle to increase his future employment opportunities. He started a private taxi business, was able to set aside some money earned driving around Tbilisi and borrowed some extra funds allowing him to buy 7,000 square meters of land in the Abasha district (Samegrelo region) to start a hazelnut production business.

Acknowledging that he is very lucky to be able to count on strong support from a network of family and friends, in addition to the assistance provided, he has high hopes for a durable and successful reintegration and future back in his home country. Having a taxi business and a hazelnut production company as his two main sources of income, he’s confident to make it work.

In September 2015, after having postponed his wedding for two years, Alek got married to his girlfriend and the happy couple is now hoping to expand the family with the arrival of a child very soon. Building a future for himself and his family, Alek also acquired a small parcel of land in Tbilisi where he cultivates fruits and vegetables and where he eventually hopes to build a new house for his growing family in a near future.

SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being
SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities