A voice for newcomers in Sweden

Why an Iraqi who won Swedish lottery won't quit his restaurant job

Photo: Maja Suslin

Published: 15.Jun.2016 11:10 hrs

Bawar Abdulljabbar, 23, came to Sweden from Kurdistan in 2009, and says the country has taken care of him since he arrived here as an orphan.

“Sweden is my mum,” he says.

He has settled into the country and particularly enjoys his job at a restaurant in Höllviken near Mälmö. Then on May 6th this year, something life-changing happened: he won the lottery.

“My whole body started shivering and changed its colour," Abdulljabbar remembers. "I was extremely surprised! I called a friend and was crying on phone - he was scared and thought something bad had happened to me.

"When I told him what had happened, he realized that they were tears of joy."


Photo: Maja Suslin

The 23-year-old had played online football matches before, and had tried out the Triss lottery tickets a few times before striking lucky with his tenth ticket. The prize money will be paid in monthly installments of 15,000 kronor (about €1800) over the next 25 years.

But even with his newfound wealth, Abdulljabbar doesn’t plan to quit his job at Mässrestauranger. “Why should I? I’ll never do that, I can’t live without work. I’m very happy with my job and the staff are like my family.”

His ‘work family’ congratulated Abdulljabbar on his win. “They said I deserved it because I work really hard for them, and I always help others.”

The young restaurant worker hasn’t yet decided how to spend the money. “I couldn’t think of anything because I was so overwhelmed,” he explains. But he hopes it will help him to achieve some of his goals, for example, opening his own restaurant, or perhaps paying for his wedding if he gets married in the future.

He might even change careers, as his dream has always been to become a barber. “I wanted to join training courses but it needed specific prerequisites which I didn’t meet. But I might still follow my passion – I’m still young!”

But one thing’s for sure, Abdulljabbar won’t be using the money to leave his adopted country any time soon.

“I’ll always live in Sweden, this is my place," he says.

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