In 2019, 548,607 Afghans returned from neighbouring countries including Iran, Pakistan and Turkey, while 1,445 returned from various European countries.
Yet, high rates of unemployment coupled with the psychological impact of return means that returnees struggle to reintegrate into society and risk becoming marginalised.
This is why Seefar launched its first Livelihoods Hub for returnees in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2021. The Afghanistan Livelihoods Hub – a pilot programme funded by Norway’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security – has since supported 77 male and female returnees from Europe, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan.
Our Livelihoods Hub approach pays specific attention to the psychosocial elements of return and therefore goes beyond focusing on economic dimensions of return and reintegration. Recognising the impact that psychosocial well-being can have on economic empowerment and vice versa, Seefar implements an integrated process towards more sustainable reintegration.
Through Adaptive Counselling and Confidence in Action Training, the Hub provides a space for returnees to develop more confidence, resilience and self-starting behaviour to tackle problems often associated with return. The Hub’s livelihood training modules, IT training and postgraduate support help beneficiaries in building and using an arsenal of tools and techniques for a successful future at home. We work with our beneficiaries to:
- Increase their employability skills
- Improve their psychological resilience and adaptability
- Reduce stress and anxiety after and during traumatic events
- Increase their self-confidence and capacity to behave proactively
- Provide IT training to allow beneficiaries to access the global freelance market
This project has shown that this combination of services has the potential to have a multiplier effect in building resilience and being psychologically ready to engage in economic activities – whether entrepreneurial approaches or the identification of locally available jobs.
More than 450 people reached out to participate in the Hub with only minimal online advertising.
42 male and 32 female returnees have successfully graduated from the Hub during the first 2 training cycles and a third training cycle started the course in February 2022.
91% of trained returnees showed increased levels of self-esteem and reduced levels of hopelessness.
Female participants significantly benefited from the programme in increasing their self esteem (72%). They also showed important improvements in confidence levels (68%).
Data from the IT skills training also shows that 44% of women had major improvements.
All participants showed improved IT skills as a result of the training and the majority achieved high levels of knowledge, compared to zero achieving high levels prior to the training.
WHAT OUR BENEFICIARIES SAY
“I was able to identify an opportunity and set a goal in my life: some children have problems in accessing education, such as the distance of the course from home, the price of fee, which causes children not to go to these courses. I have decided to see this problem as an opportunity and solve it. I am now able to teach children in a private home which also generates a good income for me.”
“My negative motivations turned into positive ones […]. We learned how to be forward-thinking, how to set a goal for ourselves […]. We learned how to turn our passive activities into active ones. We learned how to plan for business or a project and what the major steps are in designing a business. From the beginning of the training course to the end, my self-confidence has risen, I became active in life, got positive motivations to plan ahead and to overcome problems.”
“The Taliban came and everything fell apart […], many people fled, the school and economic environment was disrupted, women were no longer allowed to study indefinitely. There was a sense of despair in everyone, but I did not give up and consulted with a friend. He introduced me to Seefar. [The trainers] taught us how to have self-confidence, how to fight problems, how to earn and identify opportunities, plannings, and computer skills. […] I have now created a YouTube channel that talks about the system of women’s rights, the rules of girls, and the teaching of the Holy Quran from beginning to end. I am getting closer to my goals. Thank you Seefar!”
Complementarity with Seefar’s other brands
The Livelihoods Hub complements and reinforces two trusted brands that are built by Seefar in Afghanistan, The Migrant Project (TMP) and Salamat. These brands reach a large and rising number of potential migrants in Afghanistan who are in need of psychosocial support and migration information. The counsellors who work for these brands provide psychosocial support (Salamat) and promote better decisions-making by potential migrants regarding their plans and possible alternatives to irregular migration (TMP). Seefar envisions that consultees from these brands will be referred to the Livelihoods Hub and vice versa; which allows both potential migrants as well as returnees to benefit from an integrated service package.