"I used to work in the cell phone market, with not much income. It was a boring life everybody could have experienced. I was fed up with it and told myself I could do better. When I returned home in the evenings, my wife and I watched TV programmes showing the lives of people in Europe who always seemed to be happy and successful.
I knew some Iranians from my place who were now living in Europe and I always admired them. Gradually, the picture in my head of ourselves going there became more and more vivid. Our future, our 5-year-old daughter's future, was in Europe. I would travel alone, and my wife and daughter would come over once everything was settled.
The idea was to travel to Turkey and meet with a smuggler who was supposed to take us to Greece. Everything seemed easy and the smugglers reassured us the journey would be safe. When we reached Bodrum the weather was rainy and unsuitable to hit the sea. We waited for three days in a hostel.
When it was finally time to move they told us to leave all our belongings behind since the boat was not big enough. When I saw the boat I was quite worried, to say the least. It was an inflatable boat, barely able to carry ten people and we were thirty-five.
I must have been crazy, but once you reach a point of no return, you go anyway. After a short instruction by the smugglers, we took off. As soon as we hit the sea we could see them running away into the bush. My friend, who I had met the night before, was behind the help all the way up to Kos Island. The boat was very unstable.
The condition in Athens weren't any better. The weather was so cold, and we didn't have a proper place to stay. After a long time of trudging through fields and mountains, with no proper food and a place to rest, we crossed Macedonia and Serbia till we reached Croatia.
By that time I was suffering from a bad cold, and moral hit rock bottom. I was blaming myself all day for this misery. When I finally reached the Netherlands, I stayed in a reception centre. All the promises of freedom, welfare and opportunities had no meaning to me anymore.
I understood that many Iranians here didn't have nice houses and good jobs at all. Many of them didn't even have a residence permit."
After one year in the Netherlands, Mohammad decided to return to his family in Iran with the help of IOM's Return and Reintegration Programme.