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"Being safe and finding a job were my top priorities...Somehow, I knew that my future is there, in my home country."
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"I was born in Sargat village, located near Said Sadiq town. I have 13 sisters and 7 brothers and now I am a father of 7 children; Khattab, Hendie, Jiehia, Zakariya, Shahd, Al-Rayyan and little Marina, the 3-month-old newborn baby. My father was a very famous and rich man in Iraq and even though I did not get much love from him, I always knew that I didn't want to raise my kids in the same way.

I started to work at my mother’s market, selling sweets, while I was studying engineering in college. When I completed my studies I got a job as an engineer in an American oil company operating in Duhok. I was a hardworking businessman, I had a good job and a decent income, but since ISIS was coming to my village, I had to protect myself and my family. This is why I decided to leave.

First I bought a house in Sulaimaniya governorate, one of the major cities in Iraqi Kurdistan. However, ISIS attacked us and the city was almost destroyed. I was robbed and I lost everything I had, including my car and my savings. After that incident, I realized that the situation was unstable and dangerous for my family so I made the decision to leave. My wife took care of our children and I went to Egypt. I bought a house there in order to travel to Iraq and work, when necessary. Every week I was traveling from Egypt to Iraq and back. But this lasted only a few weeks. Egypt was not a safe choice either. I returned to my home town, from where I took my family and travelled to Turkey. We stayed there for 60 days. Our next stop was Orestiada, Greece, in April 2017. Being safe and finding a job were my top priorities. I was thinking that the best place for us to make a new start was Belgium or Germany, since they have great achievements in technology and science. I tried to find a job there with no results.

Greece is how I had imagined it; amazing weather, 100% safety and nice people. My children were really excited to attend school every day. Unfortunately, our income remained low. The price of one carton of milk for babies is 9 euros and my little daughter needs 5 of them per month. Even in Greece I was struggling to cover our basic needs. Meanwhile, I stayed in close contact with my friends back home. A few days ago, I was informed that ISIS has left and although my house was completely destroyed I decided to go back. My next step was to call IOM and find out more details about voluntary returns. Somehow, I knew that my future is there, in my home country."

The project "The implementation of Assisted Voluntary Returns including Reintegration measures" (AVRR) is co-funded at 75 percent by Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and at 25 percent by the Greek Ministry of Interior.

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