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Responsible advice given as equals

Ein Mann sitzt an einem Schreibtisch. Er schaut über den Computerbildschirm und lächelt in die Kamera.
Kester Audu at his workplace in the NGC

Responsible advice given as equals

They wanted to find a better life abroad, but came back to Nigeria after their attempt was unsuccessful. Their stories often include long treks across the Sahara, dangerous boat trips over the Mediterranean or threatening situations involving weapons and rape. Others may have made it to Europe, but found out the hard way that they didn’t have any opportunities there. One way or another, even long after these ordeals, many returnees still struggle with trauma, psychological issues and fears.

Kester Audu is lead advisor for employment and reintegration at the Nigerian-German Centre for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration (NGC) in Lagos, and regularly hears returnees telling the details of their traumatic backgrounds. “The situations that these people have experienced really affect me. My first thought when I hear them talk about their awful experiences is that we need to fix this. So we reflect together on what we can do.”

Psychosocial counselling in the centre or from partners

One approach is psychosocial support. “We offer psychosocial counselling directly in the centre or via our partner organisations which we refer returnees to”, explains Audu. The first step when he gives counselling himself is to establish a connection with his client. “Sometimes they just want to share their experiences, unload their stress and sorrow by talking and tell me what they’ve gone through. I just listen and empathise with them. Many people already feel a bit better after that.”

Audu tries to give hope in his consultations. He wants to make it clear to returnees that they can actually make a new start in Nigeria despite their circumstances. “We at the NGC make sure that this hope is also realised. We deliberate long and hard, seek out opportunities and create implementation plans.”

This advisor knows the challenges from first-hand experience

As an advisor, Audu feels he has a huge responsibility to the people who contact the NGC. “They see everything that I say and do as significant. Even the way I speak to them influences their view. They can feel my mood and will react to it.” Audu spent a few years living in Germany himself, and studied there. This helps him in his consultations with returnees because he knows the challenges that people face.

Psychosocial support is only one of many services provided by the NGC. The centre is broadly positioned in terms of what it offers, and offers different kinds of assistance. “I really don’t think there’s anyone we can’t assist in some way”, says Audu. “Our advisors have been well trained. They find out how to best provide assistance in each case, which job, service or opportunity suits an individual in their particular circumstances. And we ensure that the individual is included in all our processes.”

Opportunities in the technology sector

In addition to returnees, the NGC also advises university graduates, students, young people who have left school without qualifications as well as other Nigerians who are searching for a new job or training position. Job placement and training courses are an important part of the programme. The NGC team ensures that their services match the latest trends on the job market. “It's not just about giving people training, it’s also about what happens afterwards. The training has to help them to find a job and earn a steady income”, says Audu.

This advisor sees Nigeria as a land of opportunities for young people – especially in the technology sector. Audu believes that it would be possible to prevent emigration and flight by young people if existing work opportunities were properly exploited and utilised. Many NGC services are therefore directed at the technology sector. New training courses were also introduced during the corona pandemic. These enable the participants to earn money by digital means – through an online business or internet services, for example.

What does Audu like most about his job? “That we focus on the individual.” He enjoys always having to find new solutions and suitable opportunities. He particularly likes hearing that the NGC team’s work has improved someone’s life. “We get calls where people tell us how grateful they are – and that motivates us even more.”

Date: 06/2021

What does Audu like most about his job? That we focus on the individual.
Kester Audu