Story
05 Sep 2016
By: IOM Belgium

After graduating from University, Levan and his family became victims of political persecution. His family grew concerned about his safety and as he was young and impulsive they decided together to send him abroad for a while. Levan choose to migrate to Belgium because he had some relatives and friends living there. Upon arrival in Belgium, he didn’t have to apply for reception assistance given that he could count on his friends to help him with accommodation.

Along the way, he found it however very difficult to live in a foreign country without any legal documents and not being able to make a decent income to provide for himself. Without the necessary legal documents, he could only do some underpaid and unsafe odd jobs but there were no real perspectives for a stable job and income. Discouraged by this, everyday life in Belgium became more and more difficult for him.

Late 2011, new elections were coming up in Georgia, and with them came the hope that his situation would change and that he would be able to return safely home. He decided to go back to his homeland only after elections, to make sure the political context was different and changes were underway.

Levan applied for the Voluntary Return and Reintegration program via a local NGO in Antwerp. After having discussed several future business possibilities with an IOM reintegration counselor, he expressed his wish to depart. Very soon he was met by happy family members at the Tbilisi International Airport.

Settled back in Georgia, Levan decided to use the reintegration assistance to set up a small business to become self-sufficient. His experience in Belgium, depending on his friends without having any income, strongly changed Levan’s view on life. He wanted to own a business and not to be employed, and therefore dependent on someone. His family already owned a workshop for manufacturing plastic metal windows and doors in one of the regions, so Levan decided to expand the family business to Tbilisi and build on his father’s expertise in this field.

After two years Levan opened two additional branch workshops. He currently owns 3 workshops in Tbilisi and one workshop in Khashuri. Based on the experience he gained in this field he also became an importer of different European brands of plastic metal which he uses in his shops and sells to loyal customers looking for plastic metal. Up to 20 people are employed by Levan and his manufacture owns 4 cars for transportation of produced windows and doors.

He happily married in 2015 and the family recently expanded with the birth of a baby boy three months ago.

During his free time, Levan writes poems. He even published a collection of poetry a couple of years ago. He even joined forces with a very famous local composer and producer in Georgia and writes poems matching the composer’s melodies and songs.

SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities