Moutayam from Syria: 'After completing my MBA at The Hague University, I hope to start my own business'

Refugees are given the opportunity to build a career and create a new future in a new country, which is the goal of the Bright Future Scholarship, offered by the Academy for Masters & Professional Courses. Those who have arrived to the Netherlands as refugees are given the chance to further their studies and make use their talents and skills. One of them is Moutayam Altaweel (39), who escaped Syria with his wife and landed in The Netherlands. His strong and personal essay radiated entrepreneurship, making him the recipient of the scholarship. "Now I can get my MBA and start my own business."

"After completing my studies in economics at the University of Damascus, I had several occupations working in marketing and sales. I’ve also trained employees of banks and telecom companies in customer service, performance and career development. In 2011, the situation deteriorated in Syria, I found myself arrested, detained and tortured in an underground prison, to be released again after two months."

Departure

"I decided to leave for Lebanon to find work, but unfortunately, could not get a contract. After a few months, I decided to go back to Syria. However, as soon as I arrived at the border, I was arrested once again and thrown into prison."

Never again

"To my surprise I was released again a few months later, with an officer advising me to leave the country and never come back. But with my name being recognised at the border, I knew that "just leaving" was not an option. Eventually, I bribed a guard at the border with a few bottles of good whiskey, and went on to Egypt through Lebanon. My wife joined me thereafter. I landed a job as an HR manager, and was there for one year, until the Egyptian government suddenly decided that Syrians there were no longer welcome. "

Boat journey

"With the very last of our savings, we travelled over to Turkey and made it to Greece on a crowded boat. After the long trip at sea, we were then smuggled through a truck, eventually ending up in Amsterdam. We then decided to apply for asylum here, seeing that the city, for us, was a good option. After one year of being with the AZC (the central agency for the reception of asylum seekers in the Netherlands) we have secured a house in Amsterdam, and are happily living our new lives here. I am also currently working as a guide on one of the cruise boats."

The boat of life

"I am now learning Dutch and would like to ultimately find a better job, but my dream is to start my own training agency, which is why I was looking for a master's degree programme. I discovered the Bright Future Scholarship of the Academy for Masters & Professional Courses and luckily received the scholarship, enabling me to start the MBA programme at The Hague University. Through my MBA, I am certain that I will have a better opportunity in the labour market. For me, the scholarship is the light at the end of the tunnel. After such a dark period in my life, I suddenly feel like I can breathe again."