Lena and her husband Aleksi came to Ireland from Russia to seek asylum in 2004. For three years, they lived in a direct provision accommodation centre while their application was considered. Frustrated with the length of time they had been unable to work, they approached IOM in Dublin to ask for assistance in returning to Russia.

Lena and Aleksi were told that they could apply as a family for a reintegration grant, which would help them to start their own business when they returned. Lena had ten years of experience as a designer and Aleksi was a professional photographer. They felt that their skills would enable them both to run a successful business together, and decided to open a photography and design studio. Lena and Aleksi used the grant to install the necessary materials in their home, including a computer and studio equipment for processing the photos.

They now produce high-quality photographs and albums, and receive many orders from their friends’ referrals.
Aleksi and Lena hope to continue a successful business in Russia. They will one day expand their practice into a full studio in the city.