Mahmoud comes from Kobani, a city in Syria on the border with Turkey. He was an English teacher in primary and secondary schools for seven years, until he had to flee to Turkey in 2014. Because he spoke good English, Mahmoud worked for several international NGOs: Save the Children, Care International. First as a translator and later as a case manager. He came to the Netherlands in December 2017, following his brother. Mahmoud lives in a small town between Arnhem and Tiel. Since April 2021, he works part-time as matcher at NewBees in Arnhem. This is his first paid job in the Netherlands.
“Thanks to my brother, who had fled to the Netherlands with his family a few years earlier, I could start building my new life here right away. My goal was to learn Dutch as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, it was difficult to connect with the people living in my town. That’s why I looked for volunteer work so I could meet people and practice Dutch. I have worked as an interpreter at Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland and as an activity supervisor at War Child. At the same time, I studied for my integration. I passed the B2 state exams.”
I have to be busy
“I always try to be busy. When I sit at home and do nothing, I think about problems, memories and traumas come up. That’s why work is important to me. It was not easy doing only volunteering work for three years. I tried to find a paid job. But despite my work experience and knowledge of the English language, it didn’t work out. Yet, I remained positive and made a plan: first pass the B2 exam, then get my driver’s license, and study ‘Conflict & Peace’ at Utrecht University. My plan changed when Hussein, my colleague at Vluchtelingenwerk who also worked at NewBees, told me about the vacancy for matcher in Arnhem. I applied, decided to postpone my studies and took the job at NewBees.”
“After two months I’m already experiencing the impact this job has on my life. I am motivated, I feel good. I look in the mirror and see a different person.”
Using personal experience at work
“I work for NewBees three days, the other two days I still work as a volunteer for Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland. It is extraordinary to be able to use my personal experience in my work. For three years I looked for work in the Netherlands and now I am the one guiding newcomers towards a job. I am happy to do this work. I know what they are going through, I know the obstacles. The working culture in the Netherlands differs from that in Syria. Here there is more structure, as an employee you have more rights and more stability. On the other hand, you have to deal with heavy bureaucracy and many rules. Generally, I find it more difficult to find work here, even if you have diplomas and relevant work experience. Especially if you are new, don’t know the culture and don’t speak the language well. Sometimes we become discouraged if we don’t find a job quickly, or we are afraid to take risks and lose everything again. After all we’ve been through, some newcomers experience psychological problems, a lot of stress, and uncertainty.”
The impact of this job: self-esteem and self-reliance
“For three years I myself felt that I was worth nothing. I was depressed. It was hard sitting at home while all I wanted was to work. Fortunately, everything changed when I started working as a paid employee at NewBees. After two months I already experience the impact of this job on my life. I am motivated, I feel good. When I look in the mirror, I see a different person. I visit my brother and his children almost every day. They also see that I am doing well and they are happy for me. Of course volunteering also gives me satisfaction. But the difference and impact of this paid job lies in the sense of self-reliance and self-worth. I am no longer dependent on benefits.”
Other impact: social connection
“I now feel more connected to society. I have almost daily contact with my colleagues and my professional network is growing. I meet a lot of new people at all kinds of organizations. I enjoy both the peer and social relationships that I develop. I feel more and more confident, also because I can express myself better in Dutch.”
At the right place
“I am proud of myself. Not only because I have now a paid job, but also because I work for a non-profit organization, which is precisely what I wanted. I consider this an important first step. Later I hope to work full time and maybe get a permanent contract. And I still want to get my driver’s license. When I obtain the Dutch nationality, I might go to another country for a while, to do field work. A place where I can be even more meaningful. Maybe in Greece, Turkey, Sudan or Eritrea. But this is for later. At this moment, I feel that I am at the right place.”
At NewBees we measure the impact of the ultimate effect of our work on all stakeholders: participants, companies where traineeships take place, the NewBees organization itself, the municipalities and society as a whole. Mahmoud’s story is a good example of the social impact of our work on our own organization, our employees. Here you will find our integrated annual report 2020 with extensive explanation and all the results of our impact measurement.