• Begüm Başaran | Communication Associate

Life in the past decade has been challenging for Samar. 

She faced numerous hardships when the conflict in Syria broke out, then eventually moved to Hatay, Türkiye, with her fiancé, determined to build a new life together. After finding happiness and fulfilment in starting a family, tragedy struck again during the February 2023 earthquakes. Unfortunately, Samar lost most of her family, leaving only her daughter by her side. 

For Samar, the day she received the news of her acceptance for resettlement to Norway was a spark of hope – the beginning of a new journey. She and her daughter will soon be moving, with hopes of integrating into a community they can call their own.  

To prepare for the move, Samar is participating in a five-day predeparture orientation session as part of the International Organization for Migration (IOM)'s Norwegian Cultural Orientation Programme in partnership with the Norwegian Directorate of Integration and Diversity (IMDi).

"I studied nursing in Syria, but due to the crisis, I was unable to properly utilize my abilities. Through the orientation, I learned about the educational opportunities and employment prospects in Norway. I am eager to create a better life,” she remarks. 

Ahmed is optimistic that his children will have more stable, peaceful lives in Norway. Photo: IOM/Begüm Başaran

The cultural orientation programme covers various topics, such as travel to Norway, education, employment, wellness, accommodation, legal matters and support services. Each session is customized to address participants’ unique requirements, taking into account age, gender, literacy, educational background and other factors. 

With Samar at the session is Ahmed, who lost his sporting goods store in Syria during the war.  He rebuilt his family's life in Türkiye from the ground up. Today, he feels fortunate to be able to provide a better life for his children in Norway and hopes they will receive a good education. 

“I learned about Norwegian society during the orientation, and I can’t wait to be a part of it,” he says eagerly. “I am excited to learn Norwegian and rebuild what I lost in Syria, including my business.” 

Meanwhile, Elif* vividly recalls the moment she received the good news of her resettlement: “The moment my dad told me, I started watching YouTube videos and taking Duolingo lessons.” 

“Throughout the orientation, I learned about Norway's culture, people, traditions and laws. I was thrilled about the education system,” she shares. “It was a huge relief to know I could go to university and study programming.” 

IOM's cross-cultural facilitators play a vital role in building trust with participants and maximizing their learning. Photo: IOM/Begüm Başaran

Majed, who has been facilitating orientation sessions for many years, highlights the importance of providing accurate information to participants before they move. “We want to ensure that participants are well-informed and dispel any misinformation acquired through social platforms." 

Shukria, another IOM cross-cultural facilitator, adds: “We help them to be well-prepared for what to expect and what is expected of them. It’s reassuring for them to know this beforehand.” 

Since 2015, IOM has facilitated the resettlement of over 121,000 refugees from Türkiye to 30 different destination countries. In 2023, over 7,500 benefitted from predeparture orientation in Türkiye. 

“Resettlement is a vital, durable solution for refugees, symbolizing global solidarity and responsibility-sharing," says Andrew Lind, IOM Türkiye Head of Operations. “IOM's support – which includes health assessment, predeparture orientation and movement logistics – ensures that refugees can access their full social, economic and cultural rights upon arrival in their new country." 

The predeparture orientation features different interactive exercises for participants. Photo: IOM/ Begüm Başaran

As the weeklong orientation concludes, participants were filled with enthusiasm, ready to embark on the next phase of their lives.

"They are all enthusiastic about transitioning into a new society, eager to seize education and employment opportunities," Shukria shares. 

Their journeys have been far from easy, yet their spirits remain unbroken. 

Reflecting on their collective experiences, Samar declares: "One should try to continue living despite everything, despite all the difficulties. This power is ours; all of us." 

Indeed, for Samar, Ahmed and Elif, the power to forge a new life in Norway is theirs. 


*Name changed to protect their privacy.