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Monitoring Visit to Suriname

As part of our project activities, we conduct monitoring visits to the countries of origin of IOM the Netherlands beneficiaries. In January, we visited returnees in Suriname to assess their well-being after their return, discuss the cooperation between IOM Suriname and IOM The Netherlands, and learn more about the availability of services in Suriname for prospective returnees. One of the notable visits was to Simone* and her family.

Simone’s family owns a plot of land in a small town one hour from Paramaribo. Setting out to visit Simone, counsellor Elfrus from IOM Suriname joined us. Coincidentally, the street where we got dropped off carried the same name as the family that we were looking for. Later we learned that this is not a coincidence; the street was named after Simone's late father. She welcomed us to sit down in the shade with a cold juice and started to tell her story.

simone surinameSimone in front of her (renovated) house.

Simone’s story begins in the Netherlands, where she initially went to pursue her education but did not complete her studies, leading to the revocation of her residence permit. She stayed in an irregular situation for a while, but Simone decided to return to her family in Suriname after her father's passing. She got in contact with IOM counsellor Tina in Amsterdam and together, they prepared her return. Since Simone suffers from health concerns requiring regular medication use, it was crucial to confirm the availability of her prescribed medication in Suriname. IOM Suriname conducted the necessary checks, revealing that her medication wasn't readily available, although alternative options existed. With this information, Simone consulted her doctor in the Netherlands, who assisted in identifying a suitable alternative accessible in Suriname. With this obstacle out of the way, Simone was ready to return home.

Now that she is back in ‘het thuisland’, as she calls it herself, she is happy with her decision to return. Upon her return to Suriname, counsellor Elfrus, assisted Simone in planning the utilization of her reintegration budget. With the reintegration grant she received, Simone renovated the house she shares with her mother, son and daughter, who are still attending school. Her sister lives next door with her family. She is very pleased with and grateful for the support she received from all IOM colleagues involved in her return.

ari en comWhile Simone was telling us her story, her little nephew joined us and made us feel like regular visitors, sitting in between our Chief of Misson and counsellor Elfrus.

Nowadays, Simone works for a call centre, providing services for the Dutch market, giving her a satisfactory income. This job also allows her to work from home and care for her own and her sister's children when needed. Initially, she worked for an energy provider's customer service but did not enjoy talking to Dutch people who complained about their high energy bills. Currently, she works for the customer service of a Dutch web shop, with a more positive work environment and good health insurance. Despite her relatively stable situation, Simone still entertains the idea of returning to the Netherlands someday.

To supplement the family income, Simone's mother produces cherry juice from fruit grown around the house, like the one they had offered us in the beginning. Simone’s mother showed us the trees in her garden, after which we said our goodbyes. Next time we call the customer service of a Dutch web shop, we will listen more closely, hoping to find out whether we are calling someone from Suriname, someone like Simone.

ari sapOur project assistant for health concerns Ari, sampling Simone's mother’s Surinamese cherry juice from cherries grown in the garden.

*not her real name