Work provides structure and balance. It takes us out of isolation, gives us value, it connects us.

While many newcomers have to wait years before they find paid work, Bassel Rabata (52) got a full-time job at metalworking company Jomeco in Dodewaard (Gelderland) just seven months after his arrival in the Netherlands. Willemien, his contact person at the Dutch Council for Refugees (VWN) and Mahmoud, matcher at NewBees Arnhem have played an important role in this.

Bassel:“I met Willemien when my home in Opheusden was handed over. Mahmoud works as a volunteer interpreter for the VWN and as a matcher at NewBees. Both have helped me to find this job.”

Working is vital

Willemien: “I have been working as a volunteer at VWN for over ten years, I have met many people and learned a lot. As a contact person, you help newcomers to become independent in the Netherlands. How does registration with a general practitioner work? How do you make an appointment there? How do you sort your waste? How do you make contact with the neighbours? The three of us, Bassel, Mahmoud and I, have often sat down to talk about all aspects of life in the Netherlands. From our first meeting Bassel told me how much he wanted to work.”

Bassel: “Sitting at home doing nothing is bad for me. I get depressed. Working is vital, it helps to process my traumas and psychological problems. Work brings structure and balance to my life. Plus, I feel ashamed to have to stay home while my neighbors go to work.”

Prepared by Mahmoud, ready for the job interview!

Willemien: “My husband owns a metalworking company (Jomeco) and was looking for personnel. In Syria Bassel worked as an electrician. He is used to working with his hands and has a lot of experience, also as an entrepreneur. His family owned a business that designed and manufactured luxury decor lighting. I advised Bassel to meet my husband Johan and apply for a job at his company.”

Bassel: “Mahmoud helped me write my resume and prepare for my job interview. He explained how the Dutch labor market works, what are the customs here, what I should expect. I went to the interview with one goal: to get hired and start as soon as possible.”

An immediate click and happy to go to work every day

Willemien: “Between Bassel and Johan there was an immediate click. They really found each other, if only by the fact that they both speak poor English and mainly communicate with body language. My husband saw immediately that Bassel has talent and insight and that he is eager to learn. He offered him a job contract.”

Bassel: “I like to learn new things and to be corrected if I do something wrong. My colleagues are really helpful. We communicate a little in English and a lot with our hands. The atmosphere is good. It’s a small company and Johan is a nice person. I enjoy going to work. It is a ten to fifteen minute car drive from my house through beautiful nature and listening to the music of Fairuz*. It gives me energy for the entire day. In addition, I love to earn money and not depend on benefits.”

Bassel: “My colleagues and I communicate with each other a little bit in English and a lot with our hands.”

Employers should embrace the talent of newcomers

Willemien: “In many sectors in the Netherlands there is a personnel shortage. Employers should embrace the talent of newcomers. Yes, it may take more time if you hire someone who does not yet have a good command of the language and who is not yet familiar with the Dutch work culture. Do it. You will learn so much! From each other’s histories, traditions. Be open to new talent. And everyone needs to work, right? In this we are all equal. Work takes us out of isolation, gives us value. It connects us.”

Bassel: “My youngest daughter and her mother fled Syria to the Netherlands in 2018. I was able to come to the Netherlands thanks to family reunification. My son is still in Syria and lives with my mother because our house was completely destroyed by the war. He had just finished studying as an engineer when the war started. I hope he can also come to the Netherlands. Because the Netherlands is now my country, this is where I will live.”


Bij NewBees meten we de impact van het uiteindelijke effect van ons werk op alle betrokken stakeholders. In dit artikel las je over de positieve impact van werk op Bassel én op zijn werkgever.  Meer informatie over onze impact meting vind je hier.

*Fairuz is a Lebanese singer regarded as the musical icon of Lebanon and one of the leading vocalists and most famous singers in the history of the Arab world.

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