“My name is Rehmat and I was born in Pakistan 45 years ago. I left my home town, Sialkot, due to financial problems. It was very difficult for me to find a new job. My father owned a grocery store. I used to work there, but when he died things became very difficult, so I decided to close our small family business. My journey to Greece was not very easy. I was travelling for almost 62 days and before reaching Greece I stayed in Istanbul for 10 days. I could not find a job there either.
Five years ago, I arrived in Greece. My first stop was in the city of Thiva, where I was working as a farm worker. I was living in a warehouse and instead of money I was getting food for my services. I stayed there for nine months before leaving for different cities in Greece. I went to Arta, Patras, Chalkida and Lykovrisi, a small town outside Athens, always looking for a job in the fields.
It was eighteen months ago, when I realized something was wrong with my body. My belly got swollen due to a large quantity of liquid. It was really painful and getting access to the Greek National Health system was not very easy. Fortunately a girl friend of mine suggested IOM. I started thinking of returning back to my family in Pakistan, where I have three sisters.
I applied for Assisted Voluntary Return and because of my fragile health condition, I was transferred to the open center for migrants registered for AVRR (OCAVRR). IOM and Reception and Identification Service staff proved really helpful. Thanks to all of them, I managed to cope with my severe health issues. I was suffering from mitral valve stenosis, right heart failure and pulmonary hypertension. Flying back home was not an option and heart surgery was the only solution.
I was overwhelmed with fear. I had no faith in me and I was really scared. IOM staff working in OCAVRR facility stepped up and planned the difficult surgery. Fortunately everything went well and now, although I am still weak, I am emotionally stronger and I can fly back home. At the beginning it won’t be easy, since I cannot work for a year, but I strongly believe in better job opportunities there.
Living in OCAVRR was a once in a lifetime experience. I had my own clean room, delicious food and nice people working for me. My favorite food in Greece is beef burger with potatoes and back home green peas with minced beef.
I strongly believe that I am now ready to go back home and restart my new life. There are not enough words to thank everyone in IOM, especially the medical staff of the Open Center. They really saved my life!”
The project "The implementation of Assisted Voluntary Returns including Reintegration measures" (AVRR) is co-funded 75% by Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and 25% by Greek Ministry of Interior.