Just south of the Arctic Circle, Mo i Rana in northern Norway welcomes refugees.
Syrian boy raps with Norwegian band in Mo i Rana, Norway "I hope I can be able to delete all war sounds from our memories." Photo: UNHCR/Max-Michel Kolijn
Just south of the Arctic Circle, Mo i Rana in northern Norway has a lot to offer with its breath-taking landscapes, hospitality and jobs. But it’s far away, it’s cold, and most have never heard of it.
“Here in northern Norway, the population has been decreasing for the last 50 years” Merete Torsteinsen, principal of the local adult education centre, says. “We welcome refugees here, not only because we are friendly, but because we urgently need them to keep our region alive. We have the jobs and the space – now we need the people.”
Aiman Shaqura, the founder and initiator of Give a Job, is a Palestinian who arrived to Norway as a refugee 27 years ago – and has since become a successful entrepreneur and business owner. His latest project, Give a Job, is focused on creating network opportunities for people like him – who come to Norway as refugees with a lot of potential, and just need the right time and place to prove themselves.
When Aiman travelled to Mo i Rana to suggest a job fair and networking event, the local community, refugees and business owners were thrilled and quickly realised it would be a win-win situation for all involved. Together, they applied the Norwegian spirit of dugnad – a community effort where each person contributes the time or available resources voluntarily, for a good cause.
“What we did was to bring together people that normally don’t meet – to help them connect, to help create jobs, and for everybody to have a great time together.” Aiman Shaqura explains.
With donations of flowers in abundance from the local florist, 200kgs first class salmon, and entertainment by local musicians and inspirational speakers, attendance by more than 30 businesses, support from a celebrity chef, and of course the cooking, serving and preparations by local refugees and venue staff – the event became a five-star party for more than 400 people in the most prestigious venue in the city.
A networking event aimed not only at creating jobs – but also at meeting new friends and realising the greatness of what the Mo i Rana community and its refugees can accomplish together.