Azad and his family
“My name is Azad, and I have a little daughter called Pelin. She is three years old. With my wife Helen, I left my hometown, Erbil in Iraq, looking for a better job and a higher income. Back home, we were running a small family business, a mini market, but from the moment we stopped being able to afford our little store, we shut it down. Meanwhile, my wife got pregnant and things got more complicated.
Our journey to Europe was not easy. We were travelling for months and we arrived in Greece through Turkey. We applied for asylum, but it proved to be a time-consuming procedure for us; my wife was already seven months pregnant. We realized that giving birth away from our hometown and our family was not a wise decision. So, we decided to return to our home, but this time in a safe and organized way.
We found out about IOM's voluntary return programmes from a friend. We visited IOM premises in Athens and upon referral we were offered a reintegration counselling session to discuss our options. Since we had experience running a small business, we agreed with IOM's reintegration counselor to restart our new business back home. Thanks to the reintegration programme, we are now able to open a new mini-market and pay part of our rent. Our first expenses will be covered by IOM. I have realized that returning to Iraq won’t be a piece of cake. But with IOM’s assistance we are looking forward to opening our new small business; we are looking forward to starting our new life and welcoming our baby. Furthermore, my wife who is giving birth in a few weeks, will have the sincere support of our families who are waiting for us back home.”