Refugees register at a Stockholm mosque in this October 2015 file photo. Photo: AFP
STOCKHOLM, Sweden – A group of new immigrants to Sweden gather in a school yard early in the morning, waiting to meet with older immigrants who will guide them through life in their new country, teach them how to find jobs, and introduce them to Swedish society.
Omed Shwan and Nasrin Hawrami are Kurdish immigrants who have been living in Sweden for a while and are now guiding new immigrants to the country.
“I have developed to them the same attachment I have to my family members. They too consider me a family member,” Hawrami said of the new immigrants she helps.
Hawrami and Shwan play an important role, known as socialpedagog, or social educator, in Sweden, tasked with educating and assisting foreigners living in the country.
By virtue of the years they have lived in Sweden, Hawrami and Shwan are familiar with institutions like the tax office, schools, and the job centre and are able to help familiarize new arrivals.
“Our main duty is to integrate them into the society through familiarizing them with the institutions, customs, and laws,” Shwan told Rudaw.
“We teach them how to deal with people and communicate their problems, needs and desires,” he added.
Shwan is mainly assisting non-Kurdish immigrants in Sweden, and sometimes even helps out native Swedes at school.
“We have many Swedish youth who have had social problems. They have been ignored by their families and are somehow removed from society,” he detailed.
“Just like other developed countries in the world, Swedish society has hundreds of social problems. Its youth have many problems, but they are unlike the foreign youth,” Hawrami said.
“Facing a new culture causes very big problems for teenagers,” she added.
“We have many problems with them. Some of them go astray and it is very difficult to get them back on track,” she explained.
Henri Johansson is an expert in education working in the area of youth development.
He thinks the social educators play a very important role in the lives of the people, especially those of the foreign youth.
“They have come from another society and will become part and have an impact on the Swedish society in the future. That is why it is not easy to educate them. It is like rebuilding a person,” he explained.
According to official figures, nearly 36,000 unaccompanied children have arrived in the country over the past two years.