27. Juni 2017 - von Deaa Chaleh

In the last two years, more than 2 Million people fled their home countries seeking refuge in Europe. Just like me, they carry their dreams and wishes with them, in the hope that maybe they have a chance to fulfil them here.


I was one of the people fleeing my home country Syria. My way to Switzerland was not that easy. When I decided to leave my homeland in 2013, I traveled several times to find a place where I would have another chance to start and where the necessities of life would be guaranteed. My travels led me for one time to the Arabian gulf, then to Egypt and Turkey and from there to Switzerland via the route through the Balkans.


When I arrived in Basel in a camp for refugees, the responsible person told me, that the process to decide whether I could stay would take between 3 and 18 months. Fortunately, I was a bit lucky and got my asylum decision after just four months. Perhaps my words touched the person in charge of my case - when he asked me about my plans for the future here in Switzerland, I answered: "I don't want to stay jobless for a long time ". I always believed that being out of a job for a long time isn't good for moral and self-esteem, and I was motivated to get work as soon as possible.


The first challenge after my asylum was granted, was to find a place to live. My goal was to find a small house or shared apartment. While looking for an apartment, I realized how difficult it really is to live here if you are not a German speaker. Nonetheless, I kept searching and at last, after about six months and with the help of some swiss friends, I found a place in Olten, where I live right now.


After finding a place to stay, my search for a way into the labor market started. As someone with a computer science background and a degree from the university of Damascus, naturally I was looking for a way to find work as a programmer. Through some friends I discovered Powercoders - a coding academy for refugees in Bern (and now Zurich too). Powercoders supports and helps refugees who have already some background in IT in the widest sense. Powercoders collaborates with companies who employ IT specialists and who, in the scope of the collaboration with powercoders, offer internships for graduates of the program. After an intense three months of training, which does not only cover topics related to computer science, but also topics concerning the work and live in Switzerland, there is a match-up event. At this event, both, the collaborating companies and the powercoders get an opportunity to present themselves to each other. The idea is to get a matching internship in one of the companies for each powercoder. I matched with Apps with love and soon after I started an internship there.

Powercoders is a coding academy for refugees, the next boot-camp will start on September 25th in Zurich.
The 3 months coding academy is followed by a 3 to 6 months internship. The ultimate goal of the Powercoders program is the permanent placement of trained refugees in IT-companies and IT-departments. Participation is free of charge (additional help for laptop, food and transportation are offered) and includes a mentoring program.
Powercoders is currently looking for students, mentors and companies offering internships. Apply on their website!


I started to make my internship at Apps with love as an applications developer for building cross-platform applications using Xamarin. It is my first step here in Switzerland to get in real touch with the Swiss labor market. At the same time I have been accepted to do discovery semester at ETH Zürich University.

It is a really great feeling being able to stop identifying yourself as a refugee and to start to see yourself as developer. In my opinion, immigration in itself is neither positive or negative, it's about how we as a society make efforts to make immigration work. It's also about remembering what each refugee or family has lost, their home, job and too often their loved ones.

I’d like to say a big THANKS to Apps with love for giving me the opportunity to be one of you. I really appreciate the time I spend with staff here every day ;)

Editor’s note: We from Apps with love are grateful that Deaa has chosen to work with and for us. We thank Deaa very much for sharing his experience in this blog. We look forward to the remaining time of his internship and of course we wish him the best of luck for his discovery semester at ETH.

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