Talented Refugees Share Their Stories
Millions of Syrians, Iraqis, Palestinians, and other refugees are stuck in countries where they are prohibited from working and have no viable way to support themselves. While substantial numbers of refugees are interested in going abroad for work, many lack the necessary travel documents, certificates, or diplomas. TBB is working to remove these barriers and assist individuals who want an opportunity to work to support their families.
My passion has always been environmental protection. I have a degree in water and environmental engineering and I am currently earning my master’s degree in environmental and renewable energy engineering. I speak Arabic, English, and German. I’m from Baghdad originally. I fled to Jordan in 2004 because my life was threatened in Iraq. The biggest obstacle I face in my pursuit of a job here and abroad is my nationality. As an Iraqi here, one cannot work legally. If I found an opportunity to work in my field abroad, of course I would go, no question. There should be some kind of legal system or pathway to help refugees to work in another country.
I studied architecture for 5 years at the University of Jordan. I worked hard studying city planning, site engineering, and landscape design. But when I finally graduated, I could not get a job in my field in Jordan due to my Iraqi nationality. Now I am working in a marble factory. Thank God I have found some kind of work at least, but I want to work in my field, especially after all of my hard work. I know a lot of skilled and talented Iraqis and Syrians. But for us, it is wrong to have ambitions here. “Stay as you are,” they say. I think about leaving a lot. And I have tried to leave Jordan many times. But with Iraqi nationality, I could not get a visa. If there was a work opportunity for me to travel abroad to any country in the world where I have respect and human rights, of course I would go.
My name is Tarek and I am from Homs, Syria. I have a diploma in electrical engineering and I was an employee at a petrol company for 13 years in Syria. I had to flee Syria in 2013 for my safety, leaving everything behind. Now I live in Jordan, where it is very difficult to find work and support myself. I currently work informally as a film director’s assistant. I am very interested in going abroad to work in my field. I don’t want to take money from humanitarian organizations. I want to work. I want to continue to develop myself and my skills.
Life deserves to be lived.
I was studying education at the University of Damascus when I met my husband Khaldoon. He was in an accident 21 years ago that left him with only the use of his tongue, lips and eyes. Word began to spread around the university about his incredible resilience and how he taught himself fluent English and computer programming. I went to visit him and he offered to tutor me in chemistry. Through my frequent visits, we fell in love and he eventually proposed. He has the most beautiful soul.
We have an 11-year-old daughter named Judy and I am pregnant with a baby girl named Julia. I want a good life for them. Khaldoon supports our family doing remote computer programming as a server administrator through a system where he uses his mouth and tongue on a mouse pad to move the cursor on the computer screen. I was a teacher in Syria before the war.
During the war, we were living in an area near Damascus when a heavy shelling began and the electricity cut off. Khaldoon must be connected 24 hours a day to a breathing machine and mechanisms that support essential life processes. We knew that we could not stay in Syria any longer. In 2013, we set off on the difficult journey out of Syria and arrived in Lebanon. In Lebanon, there are many barriers to accessing medical care and the daily electricity cuts threaten Khaldoon’s life. We hope to move abroad to a place where Khaldoon’s health can be advised, to a place where he can live and breath without constant fear.
My dream is to get my PhD and become the Minister of Higher Education in Syria one day. I believe that education is the foundation of everything, and I want to work to make it strong. For now, I volunteer with various NGOs working with women and children in Lebanon. These Syrian children are the ones who will rebuild Syria one day and put life back into it.