Khouzama Dayoub (45) came to the Netherlands from Syria in 2015. Since September 2020 she works as a volunteer at the Zonnebloem. The Zonnebloem Foundation is committed to helping people who are at risk of social isolation due to their physical disability. On behalf of the Zonnebloem, thousands of volunteers are active every day to organize and supervise social and recreational activities.
Khouzama: “Just before everything went into ‘Corona lockdown’, I started to take level B1 language lessons. I soon realized that online learning is difficult for me. I miss the real contact with the teacher. This is why I did not finish the course. But staying at home and doing nothing makes me unhappy. I have always been active. I want to work. In addition, a job offers me the opportunity to meet people and practice the language. That is why I am happy that I was able to start as a volunteer at the Zonnebloem.”
The conversation, the stories and the questions come naturally
“Once every two weeks I visit a very sweet ninety-year-old woman who lives alone since her husband died. We drink coffee together, she tells me about her husband, her children, her grandchildren. About the places where she has lived, what she did in her life. She went through a lot in the past 90 years. I talk about my country, my family, and sometimes my problems. The conversation, the stories and the questions come naturally. She speaks slowly, has a nice, understandable accent and corrects me when I say something wrong. These few hours are very good for improving my language. And I also learn a lot about the Dutch culture.”
“I believe that the NewBees traineeship at the Zonnebloem is a great first step towards finding a job. Two hours every other week is nice, but it is not enough. I hope to get more volunteer work. Visiting a second person at the Zonnebloem perhaps? I would like that. I get along very well with older people.”
I have more than twenty years of work experience
“My dream is to first speak Dutch well and then find a nice job that suits my talents, competences and experience. I have more than twenty years of work experience. I started when I was seventeen years old. Before and during my studies I had all kinds of jobs. As a teacher, as an administrative assistant, as a receptionist in a hotel. After an internship at a law firm, I completed my law studies in 2002 and started my career as a lawyer. This stopped abruptly in 2015, when I fled to the Netherlands.”
A career as a lawyer
“I would like to continue my career in the legal profession. Unfortunately, language is still a major barrier. According to the official credential evaluation, I would have to study one year extra to be allowed to practice my profession in the Netherlands. However, the university requires a B2 minimum language level. I am not allowed to work here as a lawyer yet, but maybe I can find a job as an assistant in a law firm? Or as administrative staff? I read a sentence somewhere that resonates with me: “I work, therefore I am.” That’s exactly how I feel. Work is the key that opens the door to a meaningful life.”
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