June 21, 2017

Escaping the Syrian war and finding a new life in Sweden

Rabii Hamwii

Rabii Hamwii, Tieto

In 2011, when the Syrian war broke out, I faced an extremely tough decision. To stay and join the military, or abandon my family and sales career and flee the country.

Choices that no one should have to make

I did what I believed to be the right thing. I chose to not participate in a war that later would claim the lives of thousands of innocent people. I fled the country and found my way to Abu Dhabi, where my brother lived. After spending one year in Abu Dhabi, struggling to find a job because of my Syrian origin, I saw no better choice than to head for Sweden.

To reach Sweden, my best shot was to travel through Greece. To get there, I’d have to place myself in the hands of refugee smugglers. I had no choice but to try to convince myself that I would reach Sweden safely. After waiting for two weeks for a call from the smugglers, my phone finally rang. Despite the risk of being scammed out of my savings and risking my life, I decided to take the chance.

It was such an uneasy feeling. Imagine fleeing from your own country, your family and home. The only things you have left are your phone and the hope that one day you will find safety and reunite with your loved ones. It’s excruciating. No one can imagine the stress you experience during a situation like that.

Fortunately, I was lucky. I managed to get on a flight to Stockholm. After passing the security controls at Arlanda Airport, a giant wave of relief went through my body. I thought to myself: “Finally, I’m here!”. It was the end of a journey that had lasted for more than a month, and almost two years on the run.

Finding a new life at Tieto

I began my life in Sweden by moving in with my cousin in Stockholm. I started studying Swedish. After a year and a half of trying to absorb the language, I felt confident enough to apply for a job. I got an interview through a private matchmaker and met my hiring managers from Tieto. I felt a great connection with Ulf Rosell and Torbjörn Berglund straight away. They told me Tieto would invest in me and provide the support needed. It felt fantastic.

In January 2017, I received the news that my wife would be able to come to Sweden. The reunion with her was one of the best moments in my life; it meant the end of a long period of sacrifices and constant stress. I am now looking forward, focusing on my career in sales at Tieto. I have the possibility to work hard and learn every day.

Learning the language and taking responsibility

Going through this type of experience is something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I wish all the best to all the refugees and new inhabitants in Sweden. If I were to give some advice, I believe language is the most important factor for succeeding in a new country. If you can’t speak the native tongue, you are not going to understand the culture and the people.

Moreover, people shouldn’t listen to naysayers. When I studied Swedish, people told me that it was very hard to get to know Swedes, since they are reserved and shy. My experience is the opposite. If you take responsibility for your situation and try to spread positive energy, people here are really friendly. You have to try for yourself, even if it feels tough at first. It is the only way to move forward.

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