For refugees starting out in a new country, becoming part of the community can be tough. For many, getting a decent job is an important part of regaining a sense of belonging. But finding a job, especially one that makes the most of their skills, can be a massive challenge. Especially, when their existing credentials may not be recognised in their new country.
As a result, many talented asylum migrants end up in temporary jobs, low-skilled roles, or unemployed, even years after relocating. RefugeeForce is committed to changing this situation. By providing support and training, the not-for-profit organisation helps refugees achieve gainful employment that’s worthy of their talents.
We talked to a truly inspirational trailblazer, E.A., about how the RefugeeForce programme helped her get out there, get qualified, and land a role that utilises her skills and experience.
“Any one of us can start writing a new chapter at any given moment in our life. Always remember that you know how to write because you already wrote the previous chapters in your life.”
I’m originally from Egypt but moved to Dubai with my family when I was 20 and lived there for the next 20 years. I started my career at my mum’s company — she was a fantastic role model and taught me all about business and customer service.
For a while, I ran a travel agency. I also worked in hotel management and eventually ended up with a great job as the head of customer service at a renowned, global automobile group. I loved it! When I wasn’t working, I was playing tennis or socialising with my friends.
In December 2018, everything changed. I escaped from a life-threatening situation to the Netherlands, with no possessions but the bag on my shoulder. It was really hard on my mental health. I was struggling to digest what had happened. But my partner pointed out to me that although we lost a lot of things, we didn’t lose ourselves. We no longer had a car or a house or a reliable income, but we still had our skills and experiences. I was determined to build a new life based on these.
I started to look around at the organisations that offered help and was introduced to Salesforce. Both me and my partner took Salesforce’s Galforce course, which is designed to help women navigate the Dutch job market, and it was a turning point for me. The team connected me with a mentor and introduced me to RefugeeForce. From there, I went on to complete RefugeeForce’s Salesforce Administrator training programme.
My mentors were really important. It’s so hard when you’re starting from scratch to connect to the world around you, but Miriam not only provided practical advice, but also the emotional support I needed to complete the course.
RefugeeForce made it as easy as possible — they provided all the materials and paid for my travel expenses. As the refugee camp where I was staying was 150 km from the training site, I wouldn’t have been able to attend otherwise. The team really wanted us to succeed. Once I’d completed the course and received my certification, they didn’t send my CV out to just anyone, they took into account my history in the automobile industry and matched me with a suitable company.
I’m now a Salesforce Administrator for NewMotion, which provides charging solutions for electric cars. I feel like I’m back to having a real life again. I’m learning more every day and have been able to define new goals for myself. I have ambitions to eventually become a business consultant focused on Service Cloud — after having spent most of my life working in customer service, I know that that’s where my strengths lie.
Never be ashamed of being a refugee. There’s a lot of stigma around the word, but it’s an achievement to be proud of – it means you escaped, that you’re a survivor. Any one of us can start writing a new chapter at any given moment in our life.
Always remember that you know how to write because you already wrote the previous chapters in your life. It’s really hard when your life’s been turned upside down. The temptation is to just sit in your room but it’s important to get out there, look for support, and make connections wherever you can. Most importantly, don’t give up.
RefugeeForce “invests in the skilled, motivated, and diverse asylum seeker and status holder population who struggle to find employment matching their interests, experience, and ambitions.” It aims to challenge the preconceived idea about what being a refugee means and remove the stigma. So far, more than 60 participants have completed its programme, and the team is keen to expand.
The RefugeeForce programme works together with Future Ready Fest, a series of workshops, skill-building sessions, and thought leadership moments to engage thousands of young people in 15 countries around the world in conjunction with Dreamforce 2 You.
Become a partner: If you’re a part of the Salesforce ecosystem and are interested in recruiting awesome talent, we’d love to partner with you as part of our annual recruitment programme.
Donate: We’re looking to expand across Europe so we can help more refugees, but as a not-for-profit, we’re always looking for donors to help us achieve our ambitions.
Volunteer: Mentoring makes a difference in people’s lives and can be very rewarding. We’re looking for mentors who can provide technical, networking, and emotional support for our participants to help them feel more at home in their new country and navigate the job market.