Migration & Refugees, TerraViva United Nations

Finding Comfort at Home: Soran’s Journey

Credit: IOM 2018/Sarah Ali

ERBIL, Sep 18 2018 - Soran left Kurdistan in 2015, in search of better opportunities for himself and his young family in Germany. Here is his account of the journey to Europe, and the decision to come back home.

“In August 2015, lack of employment and the general gloomy atmosphere caused by the economic crisis here encouraged me to think of going to Europe in search of a better life. I sold my house and my car and put all of my savings aside to prepare for the trip to Germany. My brother and my cousins live there and they told me it was a nice country and that the German people treated migrants well.

My wife and I went with our little son to Turkey and from there we paid a smuggler to get us across to Greece by sea. There is a fine line between life and death at sea; it is full of dangers and the possibility of dying — or worse, seeing your family die before you. The journey by land was no better than the sea. We had to walk through six countries before reaching Germany: Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Austria. As we walked through the forest I had a heavy backpack on, and my little one on my back as well. There were dozens of other migrants walking along as well; we wrapped ourselves in blankets because of the cold as we walked through the forests.

We stayed in a camp in Germany. We were treated well and I really appreciated that. There was a German woman named Lisa who I will never forget. She would frequently visit us and help us with whatever we needed, from house chores to paperwork. When we had our second baby in Germany it was 2:30 am, I called her and she came over immediately; she took us to hospital and stayed with us the whole night.

But despite the good treatment and the beauty of the country, I couldn’t stay in the camp anymore. After waiting for almost two years for my case to be settled, I couldn’t take it anymore. I missed my parents and my friends so much that I could not bear it. I saw updates from my friends on Facebook and the separation from them broke my heart. We were struggling to adjust to German food, and only went to Turkish restaurants to eat. So we decided to return.

By the time we decided to return to Erbil in 2017, we had spent all of the money I had put together from selling my house and my car, a total of more than US$30,000. My father helped us in the beginning, and then I received assistance from IOM to start this paint business in which I partnered with an old friend. Here we sell paint supplies and we also do house painting. We paint seven to eight houses per month. What I make from this business is enough to provide for my family although I will need time to establish myself like before.

Credit: IOM 2018/Sarah Ali

During the years in Germany I learned many skills and values that I now use in my daily life here in Kurdistan. For example, the Germans are very punctual, and that’s something really important that people do not care about much here. If the Germans say they meet you at 4:30, then they will meet you at 4:30 exactly, not a minute later. I am applying the same concept here in my job.”

IOM’s assistance to Soran was funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), through the German Corporation for International Development (GIZ) and the German Center for Job, Migration and Reintegration in Iraq (GMAC).

This story was written by Raber Aziz, Media and Communications Officer at IOM Iraq.

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