Alphousseyni Sambou is a farmer living in Lower Casamance in Senegal. He grew up in the commune of Kafountine, which has become notorious since the sad event of the burning of a pirogue in which migrants had embarked for the Canary Islands.

Like many of his childhood friends who went to Europe, and who “proudly displayed what they thought was a success”, he decided to embark on a migration adventure. The young man was unaware that life in Europe was far from the El Dorado he had been told it was.

After crossing Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, Alphousseyni arrived in Libya. In Libya, he was disillusioned. For two years, he had to hide from the police and bandits while trying unsuccessfully to cross the Mediterranean to join Italy. He suffered from nostalgia for the orange gardens, proximity of the ocean and freedom he used to enjoy in his village.

Tired of having to live as a fugitive, Alphousseyni contacted the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In 2019, he returned to Senegal under the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme.

Upon his return, Alphousseyni decided to start a citrus plantation project, with IOM’s support. He received gardening equipment, a cash allowance, and COVID-19 assistance in the form of a hygiene kit and financial support.

Thanks to his dedication and hard work, he was selected to receive additional support in the form of agricultural equipment and machinery worth over three million CFA francs. This support enabled him to extend his plantation to 15 hectares on the land bequeathed by his late father, which he took over with his two brothers. 

Today, he hopes that his citrus harvests will have a considerable impact on his life and that of his family, because based on his estimates, the 13 hectares can provide him with an income of around 15,000,000 CFA francs per year.

Alphousseyni now wants to enable the women of the village to grow vegetables in his area. Indeed, the water pump donated by IOM will allow them to have water without physical efforts. 

The young man is proud of his achievements and life he and his family lead. He wanted to tell his story to inspire other young people who, like him, are pursuing the dream of a better life. Indeed, Alphousseyni wants to prove that it is possible to succeed and help others by working hard, without having to leave his country. 

This article was written by Edouard Bernabe DIOUF, reintegration assistant in Sénégal.