Can you please describe yourself? Your name if you want, How old are you? Where were you born? What is your education level?
My name is Muhammad Asim Zarzor, I was born in Damascus, and I graduated from Damascus University in English Literature. I was one of the top seven outstanding students in my whole country in that major. After graduation, I worked for many years in Syria. There were big companies like Samsung and the main telecom companies.
What did you do for work in the telecom company?
I first worked in the call center. Then, I started to work in marketing. I developed myself in marketing and gained a lot of experience. After that, I worked in a clothing company. But after the death of my father, I was obligated to take his place in our family career. We had a wedding salon and I took over managing it. İt was in Daria. Maybe you heard about it and how it was destroyed. After the Syrian war started, the regime wanted me to join the military service. I did not want to do it, so I went to Jordan.
Why you did not want to do the military service?
As you know, my city was from the first cities that joined the war. Because of that, in the army they were using the people from my city and other cities like mine as human shields and throwing us to our deaths.
Where is your family now?
My mother and my sister are here. We live together in Beylikduzu.
How many brothers and sisters do you have?
I have a brother and three sisters, two of them are married. One of the married sisters was missing for six years and we did not know anything about her, but we found out two months ago that she lives in Gaziantep.
How did you lose her?
She was living in a dangerous area in Damascus, and this area was heavily bombed, and there was not any communication with her or with her family.
How did you find her and why she did not try to connect with you?
I will tell you how, as I told you before she was living in a very dangerous area, and a lot of terrible things happened there like arrests and mass executions.
How many years did you stay in Jordan and what kind of jobs did you do there?
For two years, I was working in a historical antique store.
Did you have a work permit there, and how much were they giving you as salary?
No, I did not have one. As you know, in Jordan they treat you badly and do not give you the salary you deserve, but I was good enough at doing my work so I was making good money. So I wanted to bring my mother to Jordan with my sister. But when they arrived at the airport the authorities there did not allow them to enter the country.
So at that moment, I decided to leave Jordan and go to Turkey to bring my mother there.
When did you come to Turkey exactly?
Two years ago.
What did you do for work when you came to Istanbul?
At first, I worked in Syrian restaurants and textile workshops because I did not know Turkish. Then I went to Sultanahmet to work in tourism. Also, I worked with the United Nations, and I was responsible for the Syrians in the Asian part of Istanbul. I was interviewing them and recording their problems and medical issues so that they could get an appointment at hospitals. Also, I registered the very poor families with the UN.
How did you find this job at the UN?
I applied for the job on the internet, and they conducted many interviews with me on Skype and in-person in Ankara. My contract with them was just for one year.
Did you have a work permit there?
No, I was working as a volunteer.
How did you hear about United Work?
One of my friends saw my CV, and he told me i have a good CV. There is an organization that helps Syrians in Istanbul, he told me i can visit them and they will help me. So I came to them and gave them my CV.
And they told me about the training courses that they give, so I joined a training course for 15 days about how to prepare a CV, They were very kind people and they treated me nicely.
Do you think that United Work had a positive effect on your life? If so, how?
Of course, they helped me to get my work permit and health insurance, and that helped protect my rights.
When did you start working here, and what is your job exactly?
I have been working here for one year, I am working on the management of the company’s orders. And they want me to work here for another year.
How do you communicate with the other Turkish workers here?
I learned Turkish here.
How do they treat you here as a foreigner?
In the beginning, they were treating me differently, but I wanted to break the walls between us and be friends with them and soon after, I made friends here.
How many hours are you working here?
From 8:00 to 18:00, 5 days a week, but sometimes we have to work extra hours on Saturday or Sunday.
Do they pay you for the extra hours?
Yes, they do.
In general, do you think that you need any training to improve yourself at work to take a better position?
Actually, United Work provides some extra training on the work here and the machines. The only thing that I want is to learn the accounting program that they use in the company. If I learn this program, I will be more qualified to take a better position.
Here in daily life, how do you perceive people’s treatment of you and your family? Do you still feel like a foreigner or have you adapted to life here?
The Turkish people are very kind people, and if you are respectful and do not cause any problems, then everyone will respect you and treat you well. But sometimes because of the fake news about Syrians in Turkey on the internet or social media, I face some hateful people.
Are you thinking about going back to Syria?
First of all, we lost everything in Syria, and our houses are destroyed, so even so if I want to go back, there is no place to live. My first priority in life is my family, and my mother needs surgery for her eyes. We could not do it in a government hospital because it cost a lot of money, and it needs to be done in a private hospital, so I am trying to save some money for the surgery.
Our visit to here is to be sure that you are fine, that you are comfortable with your job, that there are no problems and to see if there is anything we can do?
I want to ask, is the company happy with my work?
Yes, they are, and we are happy to hear that. Thank you for your time. You have my number, you can call me anytime you want help.
I want to thank you and thank United Work, and I hope more success for them, and I am thankful to the people at United Work.