Amadou Seydi was born and brought up in Guiré Yero, a commune in the department of Kolda, Senegal. The divorce of his parents, which occurred a year after his birth, affected his life. Amadou grew up with his mother and stepfather, who sent him to work in the fields, while his dream was to go to school. Tired of this situation, he left the family home at the age of 14, with his mother’s help.

When he arrived in Dakar, he quickly realized that he had to learn a trade to earn a living. He chose to work in the plumbing sector. Under the guidance of a benevolent master plumber, Amadou progressed easily in his apprenticeship. However, his meagre income, living costs and the responsibility of supporting his mother were major concerns for the teenager. Despite his work, he was not able to live decently and support his family: “The money I received did not cover all my needs, and sometimes I had to thumb a ride from waste truck drivers.”

Tempted by stories about work opportunities in Libya, Amadou decided to leave Senegal.

The young man travelled through Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger before arriving in Sebha, a town in South-West Libya. Things started to settle down a bit for him. 

“I understood the language and I had many customers. However, some refused to pay me. And when I asked for my money, they insulted me or hit me violently,” he says. 

For three years, he worked in a plumbing company, which enabled him to support his family financially: “I sent my family an amount every month to pay certain expenses. During the Tobaski celebration, I also sent money to buy a sheep.”

The socio-political crisis that hit Libya forced the young man to look for new opportunities to make ends meet. He decided to return to Senegal and left Libya in January 2018 thanks to the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme. He is one of the first returnees to Senegal to benefit from this assistance.

Upon his arrival, Amadou participated in counselling sessions that allowed him to define his professional reintegration project. With great enthusiasm, the young man chose to pursue his passion for plumbing.

His profile was quickly spotted by the IOM, which offered him the opportunity to take part in a training course in construction of an improved domestic mini-drilling system, provided by the NGO AIDA. For 15 days, Amadou, who dreamed of going to school when he was younger, took part with interest in the courses given by the NGO AIDA. His involvement was rewarded, as on the day of his graduation, he was named top of his batch. The young man does not hide his delight at that moment, “I was very happy. I told myself that my dedication had paid off because I love the trade. Moreover, I never cheat on what I do. When I am assigned a job, I do it thoroughly. Our supervisors realized it,” he explains.

Impressed by his motivation and results, the NGO AIDA offered the young man a second training course to strengthen his welding skills. Without hesitation and still with great dedication, Amadou accepted. A few months after this training, he launched his well construction business, with the support of the NGO AIDA. Today Amadou has built about twenty wells between Senegal and Guinea-Bissau.

The young man does not intend to stop there. “So far, I have built about thirty mini wells. In Kolda alone, I have built 20, not counting the neighbouring villages. I also plan to train other young people so that they can do the work in my absence,” he says.

This article was written by Moustapha TALLA, IOM Senegal Project Assistant.