She points out that in connection with the help to return to the homeland, there is a sense of division in the society. Therefore, the main challenge in promoting re-emigration is to continue to work on informing and educating the public. “Let it not be – you and us! All of us – both those who are here and those who return or want to do so – are Latvians!” says A. Bergë.
Didn’t regret a day
In 2008, at the beginning of the global financial crisis, Aivis Sveilis from Liepāja worked in construction in Riga.
The crisis hit the construction industry hard – the industry experienced a sharp decline, many workers became unemployed, and those who still had work had to face problems with paying wages.
Aivis, like many compatriots, decided to go to work abroad. With the help of a good friend, he found a job in Ireland, where he went alone.
A year later, his wife and then two-year-old son joined him abroad. The second son in the family was born already on the “green island”.
The Sweil family lived in Ireland for almost 12 years. Aivis initially worked as a welder, later opened his own car service and restoration company.
“2018. we bought an apartment in Liepāja. It was offered to us at a favorable price, so we decided to buy an apartment so that we would have our own property in Latvia. But it just so happened that soon after, our landlord, from whom we rented an apartment in Ireland, announced that he was forced to sell the apartment. Due to overcrowding, it is very difficult to find a new apartment – either we have to move to another city, or the family has to rent a room, which we did not want.
Then my wife and I realized that it was time to move back to Liepāja,” says Aivis.
First, Aivja’s wife and children returned to Latvia, and in the fall of 2019, he himself too. Even before that, he rented a garage in Liepāja and soon after returning here he opened his own car service, operating under the brand name “Perfection.86”.
In the project competition, Aivis has attracted a 10,000 euro grant for re-emigrants to start a business. “I wouldn’t say that it was the most important thing in my situation, but of course this kind of support helps a lot. I can say a big thank you to the representatives of the support service for remigrants, who were very accommodating and were able to explain all the questions,” he says.
After returning to his homeland, he has not regretted his decision for a single day, although he initially admitted that at some point he would like to go back to Ireland, where he had mastered his field of work and earned “really good money”. However, the business started in Ireland has turned out to be successful in Latvia as well.
“Perfection.86” has its own channel on the site YouTube, and Aivja’s garage has become one of the most popular in Latvia.
“Many say that it is difficult here in Latvia, but it is the same abroad – yes, you pay more money, but you also have to pay more for rent and living. As a result, there is no difference anymore.”
Asked what was the most difficult thing he had to face after returning to Latvia, Aivis thinks that the different mentality of the people, namely Irish smiles, kindness and responsiveness, as opposed to Latvian gloom.
“The rest depends only on yourself. I was born to do everything myself and even when I moved to Latvia, I didn’t expect anything from anyone. I don’t just sit with my hands in my lap whining about the government. Everyone has to deal with their own lives.”
In Ireland, Aivis had little contact with his compatriots. It was unacceptable to him that many Latvians living there are bitter critics and detractors of their country.
“There are those the steep ones, who say they are doing very well in Ireland. Well, they receive a salary of around 2,000 euros, they have around 1,600-1,800 euros on hand, but in my opinion it is the same as earning 500 euros in Latvia. If you have to pay, let’s say, 500-700 euros for a room rent per month, here in Latvia it would cost around 100-150. A pack of cigarettes costs 4 euros in Latvia, 15 in Ireland.
Accordingly, a person in Latvia who earns 500 euros per month is the same as someone who receives a salary of 1,600 euros in Ireland. As in Latvia, there are also some Latvians sitting on unemployment benefits, waiting for everything to be brought in. A Latvian is also a Latvian abroad – he pulls the blanket to his side.”
A leaver in every family
“The fact that a person wants to leave and leaves is a normal phenomenon. He will leave, try whether life in a foreign country is for him. I myself am conditionally a re-emigrant. And after five years, which I have spent working outside of Latvia – in Germany and Great Britain -, I realized that I feel like a stranger there,” says A. Bergģe.
“There is no family where a relative or friend has not been abroad. Even when standing in line in a small shop in the countryside, this topic is relevant there,” she adds.
Tags: home Compatriots return emigration high prices Latvia gloom people