TRQN Participants' Stories
Afghanistan: Host Institution: Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan Hospital in Kabul
Named after the first President of Afghanistan, the Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan Hospital represents one of the host institutions requesting expertise from several the diaspora. In order to increase the professional level of physicians and young doctors, this Academic Teaching Hospital requested the expertise of several Migration and Development project participants.
“These experts prepared teaching programmes, organized conferences and seminars, and counselled young doctors at the Medical Science Academy. The specialists enabled our staff to put the newly acquired knowledge immediately into practice.”
“Since there were no language barriers or cultural constraints, our hospital fully benefited from their assignments”, says hospital director Prof. Abdul Razaq Siawash.
Prof. Abdul Razaq Siawash: “Increasing our professionalism. The specialists enabled our staff to put the newly acquired knowledge immediately into practice.”
Afghanistan: Niloufar Rahim, Medical Doctor
“As far as I can remember, I wished to go back to Afghanistan to do something for those who
unfortunately do not have the same opportunities and possibilities as I did. I was lucky to be chosen to go to the Kabul Medical University (KMU).
The main goal of the Clinical Skills Training Program was to train medical students at KMU in the field of necessary clinical skills to prepare them for their internships at the hospital in view of their future professional career,” says Dr. Niloufar Rahim from the Netherlands.
Contributing to the development of a country can be a challenge. “Every step in the right direction, although very small, is in my opinion valuable. Building a country from scratch, after decades of war is not easy and needs much more time and effort than one can imagine. However, education is one of the key elements to safeguard development and sustainability.”
In two months time, Dr. Rahim and her team trained 260 students. But these numbers were not what she cherished the most. “We taught the students some of our skills, but in the end they turned out to be the real teachers. Seeing their hard work and devotion, despite of all the shortcomings, was a motivation for us all. Their positivity and hope for a better future for Afghanistan, regardless of the daily sorrows, gave us hope as well as determination to work even harder.”
“My Expertise is So Useful for Afghan Hospitals”
With 20 years experience, Prof.Dr. Nesar Ahamad Seddiqi is an experienced orthopaedic surgeon and university professor. Although Dr. Seddiqi has been practicing as an orthopaedic surgeon in the Netherlands since the late 1990s, he frequently returns to his country of origin to treat patients and to train young Afghan orthopaedic surgeons.
“I return for short assignments that generally last three months, so I use my time as effectively and efficiently as possible. The experience I gained in Europe in orthopaedics and traumatology is very useful for Afghan hospitals and has a great impact. I regularly return to the Mohamad Dawod Khan Hospital in Kabul, where I train young doctors specializing in orthopaedic surgery. I also perform surgeries and assist with the improvement of reporting systems in the form of scientific conferences and seminars.
I can strongly recommend more qualified Afghans living in Europe to return to participate with the development of our country; there is a great need for knowledge and expertise. I find it very rewarding to be able to contribute in a structural way.”
Somalia – Mohamed Mohmoud
Sharing Expertise with My Home Country Is Very Effective
“After the civil war started in Somalia I fled to the Netherlands in 1992 and asked for asylum. I was relieved I was allowed to stay and to contribute in a valuable way to my new country. I studied Commerce, specializing in Accountancy in Egypt, which proved to be very useful. In the Netherlands I worked for NGOs involved with education programmes in Somalia. This way I could support schools in Somalia through distance learning by guiding them with building a regular curriculum system. Through my work I established a good relationship with different institutions, which convinced me it would be more effective if I could apply my expertise in Somalia.”
“My country has lost a lot of academic knowledge because of the civil war because so many people left the country. Through IOM I could participate in a short capacity building assignment. This enabled me to invest the knowledge that I gained in Europe in my country of origin. It is so important that we bring back all the knowledge and expertise that we lost to rebuild our country. Currently many resource persons come back to Somalia through similar short assignments. Each of them has contributed really well; they achieved visible results for instance in Ministries and in several institutions.”
“During my stay in Somalia I met many people; at NGOs, institutions and local organizations. Speaking the language and sharing the same cultural background in combination with my expertise made my visit very effective. They requested me to give trainings, which I am happy to say I could give them without any hesitation and without financial gain on my part.”
Ghana - Theodora Pepera:
Dr. Theodora Pepera is an experienced doctor in the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. George’s Hospital in London, United Kingdom. She is very committed to transferring her skills.
“I want to involve myself in women’s health around the world, particularly in Ghana, my country of origin. This gives me immense job satisfaction. For their Temporary Return of Qualified Nationals Programme, IOM assigned me to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital’s Polyclinic in Accra, Ghana. The hospital has a monthly attendance of 6,000 patients. In January 2015, I helped to establish a women’s cervical screening centre in the Polyclinic to cater for primary health needs of women; especially those of low income.
I specialized in cervical cancer prevention in the UK and would like to bring those skills to Ghana, where cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths, with more than 3,000 new cases per year. During my IOM assignment I trained two doctors and a nurse in the field of colposcopy, a procedure to look for abnormal cervical cells at a pre-cancer stage trained health care practitioners in line with international syllabus for colposcopy.”
Dr Pepera assisted with the setting up of a colposcopy service at diagnostic level, enabling the hospital to screen all women and refer high risk cases for appropriate treatment. Treatment at the pre-cancer level is 95% effective at preventing the disease progressing to cervical cancer.
“Cervical cancer screening and colposcopy are services which should be available at primary health care level. The longer term goal is that the primary care specialists I trained can serve as resource persons for setting up similar services in other parts of Ghana. I firmly believe in improving health care for women and lowering the risk of diseases in connection with cervical cancer.”
“I also have a lot of experience with high-risk, complicated pregnancies. With this expertise I also work as a volunteer for the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine ‘Making it Happen’ Programme. It runs in 12 countries across sub Sahara Africa and South East Asia in order to try and reduce the maternal and newborn mortality and still birth rates in these countries.”
Georgia - Zaza Magalasjvili:
Zaza Magalasjvili, originally from Georgia, is a Dutch film maker and cameraman. He films, directs and edits films and tv commercials, and teaches drama lessons to young adults.
“I am a Dutch national, but originally from Georgia to which I have a strong bond. I am very committed to use my experience to train Georgian professional filmmakers how to edit films.
For IOM’s Temporary Return of Qualified Nationals (TRQN) programme, I was assigned to the Art Villa Garikula in the Kaspi region of Georgia; a contemporary arts centre stimulating the creation and dissemination of art. They aspire to become a cultural crossroads where Europe meets Asia by bringing together artists from all over the world.”
“The Art Villa approached IOM for a candidate living and working in Western Europe but with an extensive social network in Georgia. I gave 6 workshops and 6 master classes for students from Tbilisi art institutions in film production: how to develop a pitch in a screen story, learn basic camera techniques, the aesthetics and perception of sound, how to use a story board and the succession of shots. To put their acquired knowledge into practice,
a group of selected trainees shot and edited a documentary.” The training contributed greatly to the popularity of the Art Villa and helped to raise public awareness of its educational activities.
“For me personally it was very positive to get re-acquainted with Georgia after many years in the Netherlands. Being given the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience in my home country was a strong motivation. The most important was to transfer additional knowledge and necessary skills to help young Georgians to find and get settled into a profession.”
Armenia: Anna Saakidou
Anna Saakidou is a lawyer of Armenian descent living in Greece.
For IOM’s Temporary Return of Qualified Nationals project she returned to Armenia for a few months to work as an advisor to the Chamber of Advocates of the Republic of Armenia. She also organized trainings and advised the chairman and the board.
When asked about what motivated her to return to Armenia she says: “We belong together no matter where we live. This personal connection is so strong that it is beyond cultural or political differences.”
“I was born in Armenia but grew up in Greece and studied in Paris, where I got involved with the Armenian community. As a lawyer, my area of interest is the European dimension. Working in different environments has given me a thorough understanding of cultural differences which I can utilize. IOM’s TRQN project gave me the opportunity to interact with Armenian lawyers which increased my understanding of international trends and patterns.”
On behalf of the Chamber of Advocates, Anna Saakidou organized training sessions for Armenian lawyers aimed at raising their professional qualifications. She assisted the chairman and his advisors with international relations and raised the prestige and experience of the Chamber of Advocates by facilitating exchanges with the Greece Bar Association as well as with law associations in other European countries. “International exchanges between lawyers are of vital importance in the current debate about the future of Europe. In times of economic crisis and following the European elections of May 2014, there is a need to deepen this discussion, stimulating new forms of civic participation.”
Cape Verde: Melissa Evora
Melissa Evora from the Netherlands studied Sociology at the Amsterdam’s VU University. She returned to her country of origin, Cape Verde, to teach students in subjects such as Sexual Education, Personal Development and English.
“My aim is to motivate young people in taking their own responsibilities by keeping their environment safe, clean and healthy.”
Via IOM’s Temporary Return of Qualified Nationals project, Melissa Evora was assigned to the foundation Chã de Matias based in Espargos on Sal Island, which aims to improve the living conditions of the population by promoting community development on the island. Chã de Matias intervenes in the field of social, economic, cultural and sports through programmes and projects.
“Young people between 16-20 years old are very vulnerable. We share the same cultural background and can use my experience to give them tools for their personal development. At the request of Chã de Matias I for instance organized workshops in which they were taught the basics of sex education, anticonception, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) and how to deal with sexual abuse, consent and rape.”
“Self respect, respect for other people and for the environment were central themes in workshops about personal development, in which I gave them tools to gain confidence and a sense of worthiness. I tried to challenge the children into thinking critically about gender roles by providing them with topics of discussion. And at the request of the children I also provided them with some basic English conversational lessons.”
“These classes where met with great enthusiasm and the children participated actively. I think my main contribution to the host organization was that the children had someone who taught them in a very informal way, while still maintaining a form of affection that they can not get from teachers who teach them in a formal way. I hope in the end the children saw an example in me that they can become whoever they want to be as long as they put their mind to it."
Morocco: Aziz Arrouchi
Aziz Arrouchdi is a social worker with master’s degree in Sociology (University of Rabat, Morocco) and an international track record related to training counsellors working with vulnerable young people. He worked with civil society in the Netherlands, Morocco, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Vietnam and Kenya, which gave him a solid background in dealing with diverse socio-cultural contexts.
The Rawabit Assadaka Association in Tangier, Morocco approached IOM for an experienced TRQN candidate with Moroccan roots. The Association aims at empowering, counselling and coaching children aged 8-18 from poor neighbourhoods in Tangier. The centre offers the children activities in the areas of arts, education and sports.
“The centre required an experienced sociological expert to coach its instructors in social and psychological guidance. I developed a special training kit so the instructors can now train other staff involved in the centre’s activities. For me it is very rewarding being able to use my skills and expertise as a sociologist and psychosocial expert to share knowledge and to help create opportunities for young people for a better future.”
“I had the opportunity to work in many different situations in countries and each time when facing challenges my experiences confirmed the importance of reaching out to people with an open mind, strengthening their capacities, building bridges and overcoming divides.”
I can contribute to the Rawabit Assadaka Association by strengthening the potential and professionalism of the staff and the abilities of the team to give tailor-made support to the children. Secondly, I invest in outreach to involve key actors in society and to encourage implementing the methodology in education and in society.
“I believe in the power of people, especially young adults, to make the world a better place. My aim is to build upon the personal strengths, skills, abilities and talents of the individual. Basically, to empower his or her potential so they can function as a team player and a constructive actor of change in the society they live in.”