human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Caritas project changed Mohammad’s life

I don’t want to complain, I came here as a refugee and have been given opportunities. But I had a good job in Syria, a good financial situation and played football in the elite division. It’s tough to start all over again.

Mohammad Abdalmuhsen

The petroleum and chemical engineer from Deir Ezour in Syria has taken a long and dangerous journey across the Mediterranean in a small boat to Greece, on foot through parts of southern Europe, via Oslo to the asylum reception centre in Bardufoss in northern Norway, and back to Oslo where he now lives.

Bardufoss was dark and cold. I was very shocked and surprised that this was Norway and I regretted coming here. But I like Oslo. It is full of people and of life and activity.

It was NAV, the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration, that referred him to Caritas and the job mentorship project. The project has changed a lot for Mohammad. Mohammad is now working as a technician for Defigo AS, a company that makes smart doorbells that can control everything from lock, ventilation and elevator to alarms. After two months as an intern, he was offered a temporary position in the company.

I remember that my job mentor Rolf thought it would be difficult to find a job for me given my background in oil and gas, but in addition to my job at a gas company in Syria, I ran a phone store with my younger brother, so I had experience with technology, electronics and coupling.

He makes good use of this experience now. Mohammad installs the systems and monitors whether they are working properly. But the workdays can be long in a start-up company, and additionally he attends Norwegian language courses every day. It is difficult to find enough time for sleep and rest. He worries about his parents and sisters who are left in war-torn Syria, and whether his higher education will be recognised in Norway.

Rolf has meant a lot to me. I have visited his family. I see him at work every day, he gives me tips. He is kind and has a lot of experience. He is a role model.

Facts about Caritas Norway’s job mentorship programme

A job mentor is a person who meets an immigrant or a refugee regularly to talk about work, career and how the Norwegian work culture is and to assist their job search process. The volunteers will share advice based on their work experience, usually within the same profession, and in consultation with the immigrant/refugee. Caritas links potential volunteers with participants and provides training and follow-up along the way. Job mentors are also invited to professional and social events and have the opportunity to get to know the organisation and other volunteers. Being a job mentor is a flexible way of volunteering that allows the volunteer and the participant to decide when to meet.