chevron-down Pijl naar links Pijl naar rechts Sluiten Linkedin Vergrootglas

Artistic and Vocational Training in Algeria: Crafting Sustainable Futures 

Amy*, a migrant from Nigeria, faced insurmountable challenges after losing her father. Faced with the responsibility of supporting her family, she embarked on a journey to Algeria, driven by the promise of a better life.

However, the reality was starkly different. Amy recounts: "I had a friend who came to visit. She lived in Algeria for a while, and she told me there's a good job with a monthly salary. We could make it there via Niger." Unfortunately, upon arrival, Amy discovered that the job was not as promised, and she found herself in harsh conditions with no income.

Amidst these hardships, Amy became pregnant, navigating the perilous journey with a newborn. "I found myself homeless, sleeping in a tent on a construction site. It was too cold for my baby, and at some point, it got too dangerous as I was attacked and harassed," she vividly recalls.

Amy sought help from a friend who directed her to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which she was told was assisting migrant women in Algeria. "I said to myself, let me just get to the office and see how it goes," Amy said.

Compass verhaal 2Amy crafting the basket based on a recycled plastic bin, credit: IOM 2023/ Hadjer Bouguerche

At the IOM Algeria office, she was immediately guided to a counsellor and prioritized due to her vulnerable situation. Following registration, Amy and her baby received medical checkups and were eventually placed in a safe hosting facility.

"After the first night at the centre, I felt relieved and so happy because I found safety. I was so unsafe where I was staying before till that point, I became so anxious at any little noise I could hear around," Amy recalls.

While at the centre, Amy engaged in artistic activities, particularly enjoying the creation of eco-friendly baskets. "I enjoy the artistic activities; I like working on something creative and eco-friendly, like the baskets we are currently making. Besides that, it helps take my mind off things," she shares.

Through crafting artisanal baskets using recycled materials, participants like Amy gain not only skills but also a therapeutic outlet for expression and healing. "I was really surprised at how simple it was to make the crafts. I can easily reproduce this once I'm back home," Amy enthuses, highlighting the sustainability of the skills acquired.

Compass verhaal 3A final look at the handcrafted recycled basket. Credit: IOM 2023/ Hadjer Bouguerche

At the heart of IOM Algeria's Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration programme, artistic and vocational training is a pivotal element in assisting voluntary returnees, especially female migrants facing vulnerable situations and unaccompanied and/or separated migrant children (UASC).

The programme goes beyond skill development, utilizing the creation of artisanal crafts using recycled materials as a vehicle for empowerment.

Implemented consistently at the temporary hosting facilities level, this initiative is an integral part of the COMPASS programme funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The outcomes extend beyond tangible skills, encompassing a reduction in stress, increased environmental consciousness, and a heightened sense of self-worth.

"Through this series of activities, our goal was to establish a transitional phase providing migrants with the necessary time and space to articulate their emotions, contemplate their past experiences, and equip themselves for the future," said the Transit Center Coordinator and former vocational trainer at IOM Algeria.

In recognition of their participation and newfound skills, IOM Algeria presents certificates of participation to all migrants as a testament to their dedication and perseverance. "Looking ahead, we aspire to broaden our vocational training offerings. Our vision extends beyond the present—towards a future where the skills imparted become catalysts for sustainable reintegration," the Centre Coordinator added.

Compass verhaal 4Migrants crafting reusable menstrual pads. Credit IOM 2023/Hadjer Bouguerche

Amy is one of more than 1100 migrants who have been supported by IOM Algeria since the start of 2023. In August, a second temporary hosting facility for Voluntary Return (DARV) was opened, dedicated to vulnerable migrant women and unaccompanied and/or separated migrant children. This facility reinforces the capacity of the first centre operational since 2020, offering more tailored assistance to hosted migrants.

Complementing the Artistic and Vocational Training programme is the Migrant Female Health and Hygiene workshop, which provides essential health information and recommendations tailored to female migrants on the move. Conducted by an IOM nurse, the workshop addresses the specific health needs and concerns of female migrants, with a focus on migrant female hygiene and sexual reproductive health aspects. 

Through an informative presentation and an interactive session on making reusable menstrual pads, female migrants are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to maintain good health and hygiene practices during their migration journey. The workshop also creates a safe space for open dialogue, allowing female migrants to express their concerns and seek guidance on sexual reproductive health matters. 

With continued support from donors and partners, IOM Algeria's team is committed to expanding these transformative initiatives, empowering more voluntary returnees like Amy to craft sustainable futures. Through a holistic approach that combines vocational training, mental health support, and essential health workshops, IOM Algeria is paving the way for these women to reclaim their lives, build sustainable livelihoods, and thrive in their communities.

*Name has been changed to protect identities

compass logo