A voice for newcomers in Sweden

Shakib, 23, works and pays taxes — but doesn’t know if Sweden will let him stay

Published: 12.Sep.2016 09:53 hrs

Shakib Taaha fled Afghanistan with his family after a colleague was murdered by Islamist extremists. Now he’s living and working in Sweden, but doesn’t yet know if he’ll be allowed to stay.

Back in Afghanistan, the 23-year-old law graduate worked as an executive with a Christian aid organization in his home town of Hirat, where he lived with his five-year-old son and his wife, a school teacher.

But his employer’s Christian profile made it a target for fanatics and the family fled in 2015. 

“After the threats seemed serious and life-threatening to me and my family, I started thinking about Sweden,” Taaha tells The Local Voices.  

“I thought it would be the perfect choice, since my sister has been living there for around ten years.” 

The two most difficult decisions of his life, he says, were leaving his homeland and undertaking the perilous journey to Europe. 

And the trip proved as fraught as he had feared. On the Iran-Turkey border the family witnessed guards shooting refugees, before making their way to the Aegean coast. 

“Crossing the sea from Turkey to Greece was very scary. Our nerves remained shot until the moment we arrived on Greek shores. I was responsible for three human beings:  me, my kid and wife – it was hard, but I had no other choice.”

They arrived in Malmö on January 2nd this year, immediately applied for asylum, and made their way north to stay with Taaha's sister in Stockholm, where they have lived ever since. 

Because the family were finger-printed in Germany, it looked at first like he would not be able to seek legal employment, but to Taaha’s great relief the migration agency gave him a work permit. 

“This was the most uplifting thing to have happened me since I left my country,” he says.

With his sister’s help and a few other contacts he quickly got two job offers, one in newspaper distribution and another packing construction supplies. He took the construction job, since it was full time. 

“I am happy with my new job, although it’s not relevant to my previous experience when I worked as a supply chain coordinator and was responsible for 75 employees.

"I know it won’t be easy to get a positon like that in Sweden any time soon — I understand very well my current situation and the challenges I’m facing.” 

Now he has an income and pays taxes. 

“Our only problem in Sweden is that we can’t take language lessons until we get residency permits, and that could take ages.” 

Sweden is “awesome”, he says, and he and his family feel completely secure in their new home. 

“We don’t get threats any more, that’s the most important thing: no-one threatens our life.” 


More Stories

Anas Awad with his "Swedish family" told his story to The Local Voices

Sharing the best of The Local Voices

We told a lot of great stories in 2016. Did you get to read and share them all? READ
New statistics reveal which towns in Sweden saw the highest number of marriages end in divorce last year. READ
Swedes tuck into waffles on March 25th in celebration of national Waffle Day (Våffeldagen), but did you know that the whole tradition is the result of a mispronunciation? READ
Food writer John Duxbury shares his recipes for Swedish waffles. READ
Photo: Erik Gerhardsson

'History will record how everyone reacted to the Syrian tragedy'

Erik, a 21-year-old Swedish volunteer, reflects on his experience helping refugees in Sweden and abroad. READ
The Förbifart Stockholm motorway project has decided to terminate the contract of one of its primary suppliers for a central part of the construction. READ
Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old activist who inspired a global movement for school children concerned about climate change, has been nominated for a freedom prize in the region of Normandy in northern France. READ
A four-year-old girl is under hospital observation after falling from the seventh floor of a multi-storey house in Gothenburg on Saturday. READ
The National Board of Health and Welfare is considering implementing a third gender designation in official statistics. READ

This Iranian teaches Swedish online to 10,000 followers

"I’m exporting Swedish to my homeland." READ