Mohamed, farmer

« I’ve made my childhood dream come true in Tunisia »

After spending a year studying civil engineering in Romania, Mohamed arrived in France in 2012. When he left Tunisia he thought he was heading for a land of milk and honey, where he would be able to earn money and help his family and friends - but things turned out very differently indeed. After his one-year visa expired, things went from bad to worse for him. Mohamed was living at his brother’s and working in the building industry. Without social benefits, the cost of living was high and life was tough, so he began to miss Tunisia.

He had told his girlfriend that he was feeling homesick and one day she told him about an article that she had read in a newspaper all about the voluntary repatriation grant. Although he was wary, Mohamed decided to go straight to the OFII to find out more and, when he heard about reintegration grants, he immediately started thinking again about his childhood dream of becoming a farmer in Tunisia.

He made his application at the OFII in February 2016 and went home in April. “It all happened really quickly. The OFII paid my train, air and bus fares. Once I got home, I was back with my mother and my friends, this was where my memories were and I soon got back into the swing of things. Although I was sad to leave my girlfriend behind, I soon forgot all about France because I had a new plan”, Mohamed tells us.

He set to work. The grant from the OFII allowed him to buy some livestock and, with his own small savings along with his mother’s, he took over a farm and opened a grocery shop in Sers, in north-western Tunisia.

Over the months after he went home, someone from the OFII was there to help and advise him and, thanks to the reintegration grant, he also went on a farming training course. “All of this meant I could go home with my head held high”, he says.

Now 24, he has fresh expansion plans.