How a Syrian mobilized Sweden’s biggest asylum centre

When Adnan Abdul Ghani arrived in Sweden from Syria, he was determined not to sit around and just wait to be helped; he wanted to do something.

How a Syrian mobilized Sweden's biggest asylum centre
Photo: Private

“The first day I arrived at the asylum centre, I met people with great skills and abilities. I recognized my English language professor there, a famous Syrian athlete, and many others from almost every walk of life,” he remembers.

“But all these people were wasting their time with nothing to do, waiting for a few elderly Swedish volunteers to have coffee and mingle together,” he says. “People were surrendering to desperation, depression and stress.”

Adnan set up a support group with the goals of empowering refugees through a range of social and cultural activities, and arranging networking opportunities for them to find jobs and internships in Sweden.

“At first Swedish public institutions looked at us with suspicion,” he explains. “They were used to organizing things and handing out money and food to the ‘poor refugees’.”

But the group was determined to play an active role in building their new communities – and their own lives.

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