Enhancing Integration for refugees and Asylum Seekers 2022

Collaboration Bridges for Tomorrow with CY.R.C Cyprus Refugee Council

Effective and meaningful integration for refugees and asylum seekers promoted and facilitated

Testimonials

Person 1

I came to Cyprus in 2012 with my parents and my siblings to flee from the war in Syria. I missed a year of school when we first arrived here because we didn’t know if things would change, we thought the war might end and that we might go back.

So, I started in the 5th grade of primary school in Cyprus with a one-year delay. It was very difficult to begin with, I didn’t speak the language and there was a lot of racism. There was really a lot of racism.

Even though I speak fluent Greek now, I had to read a lot of books to reach this level and there are still many words that I don’t know. When I finished high school, I started working for a year to save up money to go to university in Cyprus. In that year that I spent working, I felt very stuck and unhappy. As an 18-year-old I wanted to be studying like my peers at university rather than just going to work and then coming home to rest, and still, the money I was making was not enough. I felt like I wasn’t living the life that a young person should be living.

I heard about this program through my mother’s friend who told me about an organisation that can help refugees secure scholarships to study at university. The people working there asked me about what I would like to study, and they guided me through the application process for scholarships. They also reassured me that it’s okay not to have started university directly after high school and told me about their own academic journeys too. This meant a lot to me because I was feeling as though I was really missing out by losing yet another year of education again.

Now I’m in my first year of university studying Nutrition. I chose this path because I also always enjoyed chemistry and biology in school, and I really want to be able to help people. I recently realized how much health really matters above everything else and how what we eat is so important for our health and well-being.

I’m still working this year because I don’t want to be asking my parents for a lot of money, but I’ve asked them to reduce my hours now so that I can focus on my studies. Since I started university, I get out of the house more, I have made new friends, I really appreciate my classes and my professors, and I am constantly learning new things. I feel like I’m no longer being held back but that I’m making progress and moving forward in life.

Person 2

I am from Cameroon and I arrived in Cyprus recently in August 2022. I’m an asylum seeker here in Cyprus. As an asylum seeker, it’s not easy to survive on just the social welfare benefits so you really have to find another way to live. I felt a heavy responsibility to secure a better income and I was really motivated to find a job. Two months ago, I started working in a company and this has really changed my quality of life.

I found the job through a friend of mine who had some contact with the company, and I spoke with the staff about this program who reassured me that this was a good company and guided me through the application process. I first heard about this program through my cousin who lives in England, he found the organization online and advised me to get in touch with them for help.

The organization prepared me for the interview, gave me guidance on how to behave during the interview and how to answer the questions that they would ask. This is my first job working in a company and in a different country as well. These things work very differently here in Cyprus compared to in Cameroon, so this guidance helped me a lot for getting through the application process.

Now I’m working in a normal job, doing 8-hours per day from Monday to Friday with the option of also going on Saturday and getting paid overtime. Securing this job has been a big plus in my life, I can look back at the end of the month and see that I have earnt my salary and achieved something. My priority now is to make sure I can secure a good education and a better life for my daughter.

Person 3

My name is xxxxx and I was working in Cyprus for one year and I lost my job. I was so confused and I didn’t know what to do. I remembered hearing about this program and I reached out to them for help. I was greatly surprised when they welcomed me, showed me love, and asked me what happened. I explained the situation to them and they assisted me with the work-related issues I was facing. God bless you all for the good work you are doing.

Person 4

I am originally from Cameroon, and I arrived in Cyprus in 2018. Even though I received Subsidiary Protection status, it is still very difficult to find a good job as a black refugee in Cyprus. The only job I was hired for was a job that no Cypriot would want to do. I was working for many hours and I didn’t have any time to cook or to rest properly. The working conditions felt like slavery. Eventually my contract finished, and I didn’t ask for it to be renewed.

Recently I found a new job with much better working conditions through this program. The organization helped a group of us prepare a CV to help with our job search and also arranged for us to meet with potential employers. We were also accompanied to the interview, which was really reassuring for me and helped calm my nerves. The next day I was invited to start my new job. We were eager to work and I believe the employers could see that when they met us. Now I am working 8-hour shift swith one day off per week and so far, I’m happy in my job. I no longer feel like I am being exploited, instead I feel like I am useful and contributing to society. Going to work helps me get out the house and fight the feelings of stress and depression that I had when I was just staying at home. In my free time, I meet with friends, I spend time with their children, and I also find time to do hair braiding which is my true passion that I love.

Person 5

I am an asylum seeker from Cameroon and I came to Cyprus in November 2021. I am transgender so it’s been very difficult to find a job or even a house to stay in due to my gender orientation. The program has helped me a lot since then and recently they also helped me secure my first job in Cyprus. They discussed the position with the employer and arranged for me to meet with them for an interview. The employers welcomed me and were not judgmental, they said they didn’t have a problem with me wearing what I want. Now I’ve started work, I still have problems being accepted by the people around me but my boss is accepting of who I am.