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Georgia - Farming: cheese production

With a degree in economics, Mariam (49) worked as an accountant for over 13 years. Yet she was unexpectedly dismissed due to downsizing and her efforts of finding another job proved fruitless.

Before long, her husband also lost his job. It was then that Mariam started thinking that her only option to quickly earn some much-needed money was by going to Western Europe.


To pay for the agents organizing the journey, Mariam not only had to borrow from her relatives, but also to sell her flat. However, having made her way to Germany she was confronted by reality: in order to at least cover the costs of her trip she had to undertake any job that she could get, most often for very low pay. Mariam also badly missed her family. Eventually, after a series of failed attempts to earn money in Western Europe, Mariam found herself in Lithuania. At Vilnius airport, she immediately contacted IOM asking to help her return home.        


Mariam returned to Georgia under the IOM Vilnius assisted voluntary return programme at the end of November 2010. Her difficult financial situation notwithstanding, the returnee was very strongly motivated to re-establish herself in her home country. She used her reintegration grant to purchase two milking cows and two calves as she decided to take up cheese making in her small family farm in Ude village, where her husband and children had moved right after her departure.  


To this day, with the help of her husband, grown-up son and brother, the returnee has been successfully engaged in her chosen reintegration activity. She regularly supplies the local shop with her products, and also sells them in the market in Akhaltsikhe. Trade in homemade cheese provides stable – even if not high – income for Mariam and her family. The small size of the farm makes it difficult to remain competitive. Yet Mariam does not give up: she raises some hens and a pig, grows vegetables, and occasionally earns a little extra by giving a hand in a local restaurant. When speaking about her future plans during her reintegration monitoring, Mariam shared her joy that her two cows will be calving soon, which will enable her to gradually expand her family business. In addition, the returnee is still hoping to find an extra job in her profession. Mariam assured IOM representatives that regardless of all the financial problems that she faces, she is extremely happy to be home with her family and that she would never, even for a short while, exchange what she has in Georgia for an opportunity to earn more abroad.