A few months ago, Alma started a new life with good perspectives of studying and achieving her long time dream to be a professional chef, after the big decision to leave her family’s home in a remote village in Vlora region and the great frustration of her migration experience to Italy.
Alma completed the compulsory school cycle, and although she would have liked to pursue her studies, she was forced to drop out as her family, who lives with farming incomes, had no means to afford her studies. While at home, she helped her mother with the housework.
“I left Albania in March 2015 with the objective to continue my studies in Italy. I first went to live with my aunt in Genoa. Unfortunately, she was unable to take care of me since her husband had been diagnosed with cancer. Since I did not have any other relatives who could help me, I ended up being hosted at a reception centre for minors. During the six months of my stay there, I established good relations with my peers and the social workers. I still carefully keep a few letters I received from them after I returned home.”
She says that she would have liked to stay in Italy but soon realized this was not an option and accepted the possibility of an assisted voluntary return option in July 2015. Since then, things have been moving fast. Now, Alma is a very busy young woman all day long.
“In addition to the return travel, the support from which I benefited allowed me to take professional culinary class, and to find an internship in a restaurant serving traditional Albanian food. After my internship, I found a job as an assistant cook in Tirana.
Last summer, Alma also moved to the South of Albania to work as an assistant chef in a tourist resort during the high season. "Now that I am back in Tirana, I realize that this dream seemed impossible to me a few months ago. Now, thanks to the help I received, I see it becoming concrete" - she says.
The reintegration support given by IOM and the help of “Different and Equal” NGO have allowed Alma to start over again and build her own future.