From Syria to Telia Company

The UN estimates that 5 million people have fled Syria since the civil war began in 2011. 26 year old Mowafak Shebib from Damascus is one of them. He left Syria in 2013 and eventually came to Sweden a year later. Now he works for Telia Carrier as a customer support engineer. Here’s his story.

“Military service is mandatory in Syria and as you all might expect, being part of the military isn’t exactly a good thing there. I knew that I had to enrol immediately after my graduation. So I didn’t wait for that. I didn’t even attend the graduation ceremony. I had left the country by then.”

“After some time in Turkey and the UK, we chose to come to Sweden after I was accepted at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), and we had heard a lot about Swedes welcoming attitude towards refugees. I remember our first impression when my wife and I came to Sweden in September 2014. It was so calm and neat. People seemed very happy and relaxed. I came here on a student visa but we applied for asylum after about a month and were granted a permanent residence for humanitarian reasons.”

"Part of the society"
“Six months after we came here I started working at Telia Carrier. It was really a great step for me to work with the largest IP backbone in the world. I work as a customer support engineer. I primarily communicate in English with our customers but I’m trying to learn Swedish. My goal when I came here was to be able to read the Metro newspaper in the morning to be able to feel like I’m really part of the society here. I’m close to that goal now. My wife is a pharmacist and right now she is doing a master’s program at Karolinska Institute and Stockholm University. We are really happy here.”

"Unbearable"
“I can’t really say that I miss Syria. It isn’t a good place to live in now. It makes me really sad to say that. My last experiences from Syria weren’t really pleasant and I only have my bright memories of the country before the war. I do miss the people there – my family and friends. I have a brother who lives in Germany but the rest of my family are still in Damascus.”

“I can’t really speak of how difficult life is in Syria today. I only know of Damascus which is very different from living in Aleppo for example. Living in a city like that is unbearable. I can’t really imagine it. Living in Damascus is also living in a war zone. Even though the war isn’t fought right there, bombs go off there regularly. They are having a hard time with everyday things that we don't even think about here: water, electricity, fuel and heating. Life isn’t easy anywhere in Syria.”

"Miss my family"
“I haven’t been back to Syria since I left in 2013. I’m not able to go back right now since I dodged the draft. I see my brother who lives in Germany as often as possible but the rest are harder to see. I really miss my family, friends and all the people I know in Damascus”

Future Syria
“What are my plans for the future? Well, for the near future I’m really excited to be here. I’ve gotten a chance that I couldn’t have dreamt of. I’m really excited about Sweden and being part of Telia. For the more distant future I hope to be able to take part in rebuilding the future Syria where people live in peace. I really hope that the Syrians who have had to flee will come back with new and better experiences to build a country with good relations to all the countries and cultures that we are learning from now."