NewBees Perspectives: "Asylum is not our choice, but being active as refugees is our choice"

September 28, 2018


Story by: Bakri Hilani, NewBees Matching, Zaandam


“Every refugee needs only a chance to prove himself, and this country is full of opportunities."


New life, new culture


Five years ago, I arrived to The Netherlands. I ran away from the war, as most people did; I lost everything in my life: my work, my friends, my nice memories.


The European dream


Everything is hard: it's a new life, new language, new culture. Every beginning is difficult, but we have to take a step forward.


Working with NewBees


Working with NewBees gave me the opportunity to prove to Dutch society that a refugee is a real person with many skills, but simply needs a chance.


I want to thank my family at NewBees for giving me this opportunity and for their continued support.


Understanding Syrian culture


While working in the Netherlands, I encountered many problems during work. One of the biggest problems is the difference in cultures.


An example of this? I was once in a training and started to identify myself: “My name is Bakri, and I am from Syria.” Suddenly, a lady interrupted me and said, “You are from ISIS!”


“No no, madam, sorry, I am Syrian but I ran away from ISIS…”


After that, another lady tried to support me, saying, “Ohhh, I am so happy and surprised you can write!”


“Really!” I said. “Thanks for your compliment, but please, madam, have you read anything before about Syria?”


If you also don’t know much about true Syrian culture, you can google it and find lots of information. This website is one good example. 


Message to newcomers: We've come to integrate


To my fellow newcomers, please, brothers, focus: smoking weed is not integration. Neither is drinking alcohol. Asylum is not our choice, but being active as refugees is our choice. 


If you want to integrate with the Dutch community, you also have to read more, study and respect the culture, and share your own experiences and information about your culture with the Dutch people.


In the end, I want to say this: every refugee needs only a chance to prove himself, and this country is full of opportunities. You have to know what you want and work hard — in the end, you will get what you want, but it requires patience.

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