Amazing immigrants in Sweden Part 6: Hanif Azizi


Negativity. Fear. Concern. These are some of the reactions many Swedes are experiencing about the influx of immigrants to Sweden in the last couple of years. So, I became curious to learn about some of those individuals who came here as refugees or immigrants to make a better life for themselves. People with roots somewhere else who built a home here and who contributed to Swedish society in a positive way.
For the next seven days, I will celebrate these people. My hope is that we can lift our eyes from the challenges of immigration and understand what useful contributions these people can make to society if given the chance. To our society. Our Sweden

   
Part 5: Hanif Azizi

At the age of 9 years old, Hanif Azizi arrived in Sweden as an unaccompanied refugee. His parents were active in a political military organisation, a rebel Group fighting against the regime in Iran. When he was 6 years old, his father was killed in battle and his mother decided to send her children away to safety.

In 1991, Hanif arrived in Sweden with his younger brother and were placed in a host home. In this home, they were subjected to physical and pyschological abuse and were eventually removed by the Swedish Social Services and placed in a secure and supportive environment.

Today, Hanif is 35 and works as a policeman based in the Stockholm suburb of Järva. Here, he works to prevent crime but also to support youths who are at risk of falling into criminality. In Järva there are lots of individuals with an ethnic background. Hanif tries to help them feel involved in Swedish society so as to avoid radicalisation and crime. 

His contribution to Swedish society is extremely valuable. Hanif is an amazing immigrant in Sweden and a positive role model and contributor to Swedish society. 

Amazing immigrants in Sweden: Part 5 Meraf Bahta Ogbagaber 


Negativity. Fear. Concern. These are some of the reactions many Swedes are experiencing about the influx of immigrants to Sweden in the last couple of years. So, I became curious to learn about some of those individuals who came here as refugees or immigrants to make a better life for themselves. People with roots somewhere else who built a home here and who contributed to Swedish society in a positive way.

For the next seven days, I will celebrate these people. My hope is that we can lift our eyes from the challenges of immigration and understand what useful contributions these people can make to society if given the chance. To our society. Our Sweden

 
Part 5: Meraf Bahta Ogbagaber 
Meraf Bahta was born in Dekishahay in Eritrea, a country with heavily criticized human rights. In 2008, at the age of 19, she escaped this one-party military state. In Eritrea, she had been conscripted to do a 5-year long military service, or punishment by imprisonment. Both her parents were imprisoned and her mother had died behind bars. So Meraf fled and found a safe haven in Sweden. In Eritrea, she is considered a deserter and her return there would mean instant death. 

As a middle distance runner, she has participated in many international competitions. Her personal best times are 4:05.11 minutes in the 1500 metres and 14:59.49 minutes in the 5000 metres – which is the Swedish national record. She is also the European champion (2014) in 5000 metres. 

Since 2014 she is a Swedish citizen and eligible to represent Sweden in international events. She did so at the recent Olympics in Rio and World Championships in London. 

Meraf has found security in Sweden and is able to pursue her athletics career without threat or military interference. Watching her on the track, it’s easy to see that she wears her yellow and blue colours with pride. 

Amazing immigrants in Sweden: Part 4 Madubuko A. Robinson Diakité

madubuko

Negativity. Fear. Concern. These are some of the reactions many Swedes are experiencing about the influx of immigrants to Sweden in the last couple of years. So, I became curious to learn about some of those individuals who came here as refugees or immigrants to make a better life for themselves. People with roots somewhere else who built a home here and who contributed to Swedish society in a positive way.

For the next seven days, I will celebrate these people. My hope is that we can lift our eyes from the challenges of immigration and understand what useful contributions these people can make to society if given the chance. To our society. Our Sweden

 

Part 4: Madubuko A. Robinson Diakité

Many people in Sweden know who Swedish rapper Timbuktu is. His many hits and TV appearances have made him a household name. However, very few know about his father – a human rights lawyer, writer and documentary filmmaker – who emigrated to Sweden in the 1960’s. – Madubuko A Robinson Diakite.

Madubuko was born in Harlem, USA and moved as a teenager to Africa after his mother married a Nigerian journalist. Inspired by his step father to work with social injustice, he returned to the USA in the 60’s and earned a degree in law. In 1968, he moved to Sweden to study film-making and continued on with a Ph.D. In 1992, he earned a Law degree at Lund University. Currently, he researches in human rights at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Lund and is active in anti-discrimination organisations in Sweden.

He has published articles on film and human rights law for several international publications, and has headed several projects on the rights of people of African descent.  he also wrote the book Not Even in Your Dreams, a semi-autobiographical work studying child abuse in Africa.

Madubuko Diakite came to Sweden as a student and has become a strong voice in the academic and human rights communities. With his own experiences and competence, he has worked to make Swedish society a more open place.

His conviction passes on through the lives he has helped and through the popular music of his successful son.

 

Amazing immigrants in Sweden: Part 3 Negra Efendic

negra efendic

Negativity. Fear. Concern. These are some of the reactions many Swedes are experiencing about the influx of immigrants to Sweden in the last couple of years. So, I became curious to learn about some of those individuals who came here as refugees or immigrants to make a better life for themselves. People with roots somewhere else who built a home here and who contributed to Swedish society in a positive way.

For the next seven days, I will celebrate these people. My hope is that we can lift our eyes from the challenges of immigration and understand what useful contributions these people can make to society if given the chance. To our society. Our Sweden

Part 3: Negra Efendić

Sometimes when we imagine groups of immigrants and refugees, it is easy to forget the children. At the age of 13, with her parents, Negra Efendic fled the war in Bosnia. She was born in a town called Srebenica where, in 1995, 8000 men and boys were executed.  Her father managed to escape and flee to Sweden.

After a difficult period, her family settled and Negra went to school and ultimately studied journalism in the small Swedish town of Motala. After working at the newspaper in Borås, she started working at national paper ‘Svenska Dagbladet’ where she covers migration and immigration issues. In 2016, she published the book ‘Jag var precis som du’ – ‘I was just like you’ – where she recounts the experience of fleeing to Sweden and living as a refugee here.

She is living proof that refugees in Sweden have valid stories, often stories of horror. Are we prepared to listen?

Amazing immigrants in Sweden: Part 2 Shori Zand

Shori-Zand-500x500

Negativity. Fear. Concern. These are some of the reactions many Swedes are experiencing about the influx of immigrants to Sweden in the last couple of years. So, I became curious to learn about some of those individuals who came here as refugees or immigrants to make a better life for themselves. People with roots somewhere else who built a home here and who contributed to Swedish society in a positive way.

For the next seven days, I will celebrate these people. My hope is that we can lift our eyes from the challenges of immigration and understand what useful contributions these people can make to society if given the chance. To our society. Our Sweden

Part 2: Shori Zand, midwife and entrepreneur from Iran

Giving her sons a safer and more prosperous life was Shori Zand’s motvation when she arrived in Sweden in 1987. At the age of 25, she arrived with her husband, two small sons and three suitcases. And nothing else – except ambition.

In Iran, Shori had worked as a nurse so, once she had a command of the Swedish language, she re-trained to be a nurse in Sweden and then ultimately, a midwife.

In 2000, thanks to the relaxation of healthcare laws in Sweden, Shori saw an opportunity to open a midwife clinic in Linköping. By 2010 she had a healthcare organisation that turned over 400 million Swedish kronor. Providing care in maternity, elderly care, mammography, neurology, gynocology and hearing rehabilitation, Shori’s company ‘Avesina’ employed a staff of  1200 people.

Shori Zand is often referred to as a role model for female entrepreneurs. Apart from her successes with Avesina, she has won an array of prizes, been on the boards of ‘Svensk Näringsliv’, TLV and Nutek as well as advising the Swedish government in IT and being Vice President of the Swedish Organisation for Healthcare Entrepreneurs.

Shori Zand arrived in Sweden with almost nothing. She is now an integrated, respected and accomplished businesswoman who has enabled care for thousands of Swedes. She has also created jobs – for over a thousand people – and undeniably contributed to Sweden’s economy and society.

Amazing immigrants in Sweden: Part 1 Georg Klein

georgklein

Negativity. Fear. Concern. These are some of the reactions many Swedes are experiencing about the influx of immigrants to Sweden in the last couple of years. So, I became curious to learn about some of those individuals who came here as refugees or immigrants to make a better life for themselves. People with roots somewhere else who built a home here and who contributed to Swedish society in a positive way.

For the next seven days, I will celebrate these people. My hope is that we can lift our eyes from the challenges of immigration and understand what useful contributions these people can make to society if given the chance. To our society. Our Sweden.

First out is Georg Klein – Hungarian refugee and cancer researcher

Georg Klein was born 28 July 1925 in Budapest, Hungary. He died in Stockholm in December 2016. Born into a Jewish family, he survived the Haulocaust by escaping from a deportation train. In 1947, this time to escape the Soviet occupation, he arrived in Stockholm where he studied medicine at Karolinska Institute. Georg Klein arrived as a young refugee and became one of Sweden’s most important cancer researchers.

Together with his wife, Eva Klein, who also emigrated from Hungary, he built up an institute for tumor biology at Karolinska which became a world-leading research institute for over 4 decades. Georg and Eva Klein are responsible for a long row of discoveries within cancer research and lay the foundation for modern tumor immunotherapy. In addition to this, Georg Klein authored 10 books on a broad variety of subjects.

Arriving in Sweden with nothing, Georg and Eva had drive and ambition. They integrated into Swedish society, had three children and several grandchildren.

Their important contribution to cancer research has saved the lives of countless Swedes and other people all over the world.

 

 

Sweden – get some perspective!!

60 million is a massive number. So big that it’s impossible to imagine. Difficult to relate to. 60 million is roughly 6 times the population of the whole of Sweden. And it’s the estimated number of people who are currently on the run in the world today. These people are running from war, from oppression, violence and starvation. They are running to escape persecution, to save their lives, and the lives of their children.

As we sit here in our comfortable homes, drinking coffee and eating our cinnamon buns, we watch these people on our flat screen televisions and switch them off when it gets too repetitive. 60 million people is an impossible number to digest, so it’s better just to put those images somewhere to the back of our minds and complain about the weather instead.

But just because it’s not happening here, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. 

A comparative handful of these 60 million people, against all odds, make it to Sweden. Housed in camps or living homeless on the streets, they break our illusion of our rich society. These people see Sweden as a temporary sanctuary. Here they are safe from war, famine and disease. They are safe from persecution and attack. But some Swedes see them as vermin, as parasites who are here to suck freely at the teet of the tax payer. 

We are told in political rhetoric that Sweden is being ‘swarmed’ by refugees, that our comfortable society is at risk. And people are scared that the self righteous baracades that have been built are creaking under the pressure of a world outside. 

Get some perspective Sweden! 

According to statistics released by the UN, the actual number of refugees and immigrants seeking asylum in Europe last year was round 600 000 – a mere 1%. 

Other statistics from Forbes show the following: 

  
Per thousand people, Sweden took in 15 refugees during 2014 which means around 135000 people. Out of 60 million people who are currently on the move. 

We need to have a reality check in Sweden and not believe the political arguments that some parties would have us believe. 

In the big picture, the number of people who make it to Sweden is tiny. These people have endured more than we can imagine just to get here. They have suffered mentally and emotionally and probably experienced indignities beyond our comprehension. 

The question becomes how do we treat these people who break through our flat screen complacency when they become living examples of what we fear? 

I suggest we welcome them with pride and with humanity. And treat them with the dignity they deserve. These are people, not parasites.  

And they are desperate to receive our protection. 

     

         
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