How to take charge of your future - from the experiences of two former refugees

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If you don’t act on your dreams, all they’re going to be, are dreams. Like most things in life, you need to put in the work to get results. Following our previous blog ‘I am a refugee, but more importantly, I am a dreamer’ on World Refugee Day, we wanted to share with you two more stories from former refugees. Learn about how both Ahmad and Ammar are working to turn their dreams, into realities.

Achievers are doers.

Ahmad (to respect the anonymity of this person, they will be referred to as Ahmad)

Ahmad is originally from Syria. He is now living in Finland and works as an accountant. His dream is to work as a financial analyst in a bank. This has been his dream ever since he worked as an internal auditor in Damascus. “I enjoy working with numbers and analyzing them to see what’s really behind the numbers.”

Life in refugee camps is hectic. While Ahmad lived in the refugee camp, he spent his time learning languages. "Many different things were going on, and there was no time for anything else," Ahmad explains. Despite the challenges, he’s never stopped working towards his dream. “Before coming to Finland, I knew that if I work hard, I will be able to do whatever I want. And after the experience of arriving in Finland, this just multiplied by 100 times”, says Ahmad.

“You will be able to achieve everything if you just work hard.”

Ahmad’s current job in accounting is one step before a financial analyst. Although he feels overqualified for this position, he believed that it was a chance for him to establish himself in a new country. It was an opportunity worth taking. The road to achieving your dream may not always be straightforward. Sometimes you may feel like you’re not progressing, or even taking a step back. But, Ahmad wants to remind you that “if you focus on your goals and continue working, you will be able to reach that final target.”

Ahmad's biggest strength is that he doesn’t limit himself to anything. His motto in life is: “Take on every opportunity that comes your way.” At the moment, he is doing his Masters’, learning Finnish, and taking opportunities to network, to help him get his dream job.

Don’t wait until tomorrow to start. Start now!

"People get a lot of opportunities here in Finland. I’ve seen the other side of the story, a different country, culture, society, and I feel like in Finland, anything is possible for you", says Ahmad. So don’t let the opportunities slip away. Take them. Here’s what Ahmad suggests you can do to start: “First, take care of yourself; physically, and mentally. Then, think about your goals and plan out what you can do daily, weekly, and monthly to achieve them. And if you don’t know what you want to do, remember that you won’t know what you want, unless you try it.” So head out and start doing!


Meet Ammar. He is from Aleppo, the biggest city in Syria. When he lived in Syria, he worked as a quality management consultant for 9 years. He is currently working as an accountant in Finland.

Ammar’s dream is to have a stable life. “With the situation in Syria, a family and two children, my dreams and priorities have changed a lot,” says Ammar. “Most of my dreams now concern them.” Life became unstable for Ammar 5 years ago when he left home. “When we left Syria because of the war, we went to the nearest place we could go, but it was still unstable. Luckily, we were in a program with the UN and were fortunate enough to fly with my whole family from Beirut to Finland.” That’s why his focus is now on his family's happiness. To provide his kids with opportunities and a bright future.

Think about what you value, and strive for that. Don’t worry about what others may think or say, focus on your own path and what makes you happy.

Ammar’s dream job is to work in quality management. “I was very happy doing that job since it fits my way of thinking, but there was a war so I couldn’t continue. So if I could come back to that line of work, it would be a dream come true." Even though he hasn’t had any luck so far, he knows that getting his dream job is possible. Ammar realizes that his language ability is holding him back, so all he needs is to do is work on it. Being proactive is a big step towards making your dreams a reality.

During Ammar’s first few months in Finland, he participated in the Business Lead 'micro-MBA' program. A program offered by Hanken & SSE Executive Education and Funzi to integrate migrants into the Finnish work culture. “Through this program, I got my position in Fiskars, as well as was connected to a mentor. The mentor from the program is still communicating with us and helping us today." Ammar believes that these kind of programs are helpful to get people started in a new country. But, he believes that "with everything people give you, it's up to you, in the end, to figure out what to do with it."

You are in charge of your own life. There's only so many opportunities and support others can offer, it's up to you to turn it into something great.

A few words of advice from Ammar to you:
“You have to be patient, but at the same time, don’t wait. Work hard and be patient. If you wait for things to happen, nothing will happen. If someone is lucky enough, you hear about it in the news, and it’s one in a million. So, know what you want, and work for it.”

Dreamers do. If no opportunities present themselves, create them. You are capable of more than you know! Believe in yourself, because we believe in you too. Let us know in the comments what your dreams are and how you’re working towards them! If you have any questions or are in need of advice, leave them in the comments, and we’ll try our best to help out. Big thank you to Ahmad and Ammar for sharing your experiences with us.

And if you’re wondering how your organization can help refugees integrate into a new country, get in touch with us and let’s make it happen.


Phuong Tran
Marketing & Communications at Funzi.
Passionate about sharing beautiful stories of inspiring people.