Going public

Apart from this blog, the journey we’ve had with Samir has been a private one. Both for Samir, and for us. Now that we are reaching the end of this chapter we agreed to an interview with a newspaper that has a commitment to telling the multitude of stories related to refugees and asylum seekers. It’s a good news story for once…. It’s in Dutch and you can find it here.

Family news!

Samir has just heard that his family will be granted permission to join him in the Netherlands.

He arrived home unexpectedly early last night while we were eating dinner. Willem and I were in the middle of some school debate or other, and Samir just hovered at my shoulder… something was up. You’ve something to say haven’t you Samir… and the biggest smile you’ve ever seen spread across his face.

What a month it has been. First the job in Amsterdam, and now the news that he’s been waiting…  and waiting… and didn’t dare hope for has happened. His determination and patience (and thankfully his wife’s patience) has paid off.

It could now move fast (in government department terms). Samir expects them within 4-6 weeks…

A breakthrough!

In the last post I mentioned that Samir was going for an interview with a company in Amsterdam. What a relief! It went well. Better than well. Samir has been offered a 1 month training period followed by a job. Yes!

Samir is thrilled, because it’s programming web applications – exactly what he was hoping to do.  Details are still to be worked out with salary, contracts etc, but they want him to start as soon as possible.

So last night we had a celebratory drink to toast the future. The timing couldn’t be better for all of us.

Samir’s choices…


Over the last couple of weeks Samir has made some choices. In order to focus 100% on job opportunities in Amsterdam he’s stopped with his Dutch lessons, stopped working on some job leads with local businesses in Gorinchem, and decided not to continue with his confidence and presentation training.

To be honest, Annelies and I have challenged Samir on these decisions and questioned if it’s the right way to go forward. It seems a very high risk strategy. Learning Dutch is vital if Samir is to build a life here, and he knows it significantly increases his chances of getting interviews for jobs and being accepted by local people.

All three of us have been tested. For Annelies and I in our role as mentors, even when we don’t agree with his choices, we realise we need to encourage and motivate. For Samir…well, he’s listened to some direct criticism (welcome to Holland).

There have been some silences, some tears, and some straight talking. Now we’re back on track… and Samir is on his way to a big interview in Amsterdam.

Fingers crossed….

Little rays of sunlight

The sun has been flipped spring into an early summer, and it’s brought a skip into all our steps.

Annelies and I have been away for a long weekend with the kids, the first time we’ve had to ourselves since Christmas. This meant that Samir also had a long weekend to himself, and although he had the house with only Alex the cat to look after, he prefers to be around people, and used it to visit fellow countrymen in Utrecht.

One of his friends has been offered a job – and I can see this is inspiring for Samir… it’s possible!

Although Samir is interviewing with companies that can offer work experience and perhaps a job, a contract feels like a long way off. We’re encouraging Samir to shed the refugee persona and really think about the value he can bring to a company. Giving a week of his time to prove himself to a company is smart, but any longer than that and he risks losing precious time.

A scrap of good news came in last week – Samir is going to work on a project for a company that needs a new website. It’s a one-off gig and hardly challenging considering his programming skills…  but it’s expanding his network, it shows initiative, drive and a tangible result to potential employers, and a little money is his pocket.

Let’s keep the sun shining!