Shakeel and Mazhar
Shakeel and Mazhar are two young men from Pakistan who, about a year ago, left their country in the hope of getting a good job in Europe so that they could support their families back home.
“I took a ship from Karachi to Iran and then I had to walk to Tehran. From there, I mostly walked my way to Turkey. It took me 17 days to get to the island of Kos in Greece. It felt like forever”, explains Mazhar, who left behind a 4-year-old daughter.
Shakeel, from Lahore, had a similar journey. “I was happy to get here but it was impossible to get a job, no matter how hard I tried”, he adds. Mazhar was luckier, or at least that’s what he thought. “I got to work in the fields of Skala Lakonias (in the southern Peloponnese) but I never got paid for my labour. I ended up in Athens, I spent 3 months in the streets, homeless”.Both men, with no job or place to stay, got increasingly desperate as they felt stranded in Greece with no means to go back home, until some of their compatriots talked to them about “The implementation of Assisted Voluntary Return including Reintegration Measures” (AVRR) of the IOM.
Shakeel places his hand on his heart as he enthusiastically says “I’m so happy I’m going back home, I can hardly wait! Thanks to the help of the IOM, not only I will be able to go back to my son in Pakistan but I will also get the financial aid to start a small farm”. Both Shakeel and Mazhar are beneficiaries of the personalized reintegration plans, which are based on their specific needs. “With the help of the reintegration programme, I will buy two cows together with my brother”, says Mazhar, “and hopefully, I will be able also to work as a boat builder, just like I used to do before coming to Europe”.