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.

Did you like this story?

Help improve The Local Voices by completing this short reader survey.



More Stories

'I dream of a world without borders'

Artist Nada Ali saw her creativity stifled by the trauma of Syria’s war, but relocating to Sweden to take part in a leadership programme helped put her career back on track. READ
Two Russian warships equipped with long-range missiles have entered the Baltic Sea after passing Denmark. READ
The Local investigates what Sweden's new drone ban could mean for businesses in the country. READ
Telecoms giant Ericsson has appointed a new CEO after a turbulent year for the company. READ
At least according to this global ranking, which picks 12 Swedish universities among the top-1000. READ
Swede's Employment Minister Ylva Johansson, Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, and US Ambassador Azita Raji. Photo: US Embassy

How can refugee women make their mark in Sweden?

Swedish ministers, the US ambassador, and organizations promoting gender equality and refugee integration met in Stockholm last week to discuss the role of refugee women inin their host country. The Local Voices was there. READ
Sweden's pharmacies are banning teens under 18 from buying more than one pack of pills at a time. READ
A man has been arrested in Sweden suspected of involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide which claimed 800,000 lives. READ
EU countries including Sweden should be granted permission to extend temporary border controls by a period of a further three months, the European Commission has decided. READ
Almost two weeks have passed since Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and he has yet to acknowledge the win. The Local asked Swedes what they think of the singer's silence. READ
Ratiba says living in Sweden will "give a new meaning" to her life.

Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens

Ratiba Hanoush, 28, left Syria for Turkey in 2012 before arriving in Sweden last year. She admits that she still feels like an outsider, but explains why she is happier here than at home. READ