Salām Sverige – Sweden’s newest podcast, by young refugees

Salām Sverige - Sweden's newest podcast, by young refugees
Photo: Lina Eleonor Johansson
Taking the world of radio and the lives of young refugees by storm is Salām Sverige…

It’s a new podcast, discussing various topics surrounding unaccompanied youth life in a new country.

The youngsters involved have all come from countries such as Afghanistan or Iran and are all going through the Asylum process.

Founders of the podcast Lina Eleonor Johansson and Thomas Karlsson found the stories of the individuals fascinating and felt it was important to share them.

“There are many untold stories, unheard voices, and we want to make sure their voices are heard,” says Lina.

“We hope to empower the youths while also facilitating integration.”

The monthy podcasts each focus on different topics pertinent to adolescence and indeed the experiences the youngsters are going through. Topics so far have included tackling the new language, love and relationships, and the podcast has also featured interviews with Theodor Kallifatides, Greek author immigrant to Sweden and Musse Husseini, chairman of Sweden’s sole offspring association and model for refugee children.

But the podcast isn’t just about discussing whatever that months topic is.

“We also get information about what our rights are and where we can get help,” says 17 year old Mustafa, who came to Sweden from Afghanistan in 2015.

Learning about things like democracy and freedom helps the youngsters assimilate into their new society. Particularly as the countries they all came from were restrictive of their freedoms. Undoubtedly, moving to another country will always bring about a culture shock, however, the culture shock the boys feel is arguably more pronounced.

“Everything is different here,” Mustafa explains, “such as the relationship between men and women, the relationship between students and teachers, the way we’re taught at school.”

“We want to help them understand democracy and freedom of speech, as well as make them understand that their stories are important,” states Lina. 

The podcast is done in very simple Swedish – helping the boys, as well as listeners, master the language –  with of course, both Lina and Thomas on hand helping them all the way.

Together with supporting the boys through the podcast recordings, Lina and Thomas assist them with script writing and interviews. They also run a weekly workshop, that takes place before the podcast recordings, where they all discuss issues and themes which leads to deciding the topic for that week.

“Our function is to help them come up with ideas and implement them. As producers, we have publishing responsibilities, we know what works and what doesn’t, and we know how to keep listeners listening,” explains Lina.

Though the boys currently receive great help, Lina and Thomas hope eventually they’ll be able to take a back seat.

“The goal is for them to become fully autonomous and prepare, record and publish the podcast without us.”

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“The podcast is a good way for me to get to know Swedish culture and society,” says Mustafa, “it is utterly new for me but also great fun!”