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Malin Fahlborg: ”New arrivals in Sweden deserve a dignified welcome”

There's a knock at the door. Outside stands an Ahmed, a Fatima or a Mohammed. Pupils who have managed to find their way to the school without any help, and who hope to be able to start there the same day.
Malin Fahlborg, Educator at Slussen in Kristianstad. She previously had a blog in Kristianstadsbladet, "Salaam Sweden", which has also become a book.
Malin Fahlborg, Educator at Slussen in Kristianstad. She previously had a blog in Kristianstadsbladet, "Salaam Sweden", which has also become a book.
Foto: Privat
Detta är en personligt skriven text i mosaik.kristianstadsbladet. Åsikter som uttrycks är skribentens egna.

As a teacher I was surprised. And I welcomed the pupil into my classroom. A pupil I was curious to learn more about.

I changed jobs and started to work with younger children in the preparatory class. I heard people talk about Slussen, Kristianstad municipality's reception unit for all new arrivals in Sweden, both adults and children. Soon it was time for me to go to Slussen and fetch children who were ready to start in my class.

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That's when I made up my mind – that's where I wanted to work
Since 2009, Slussen has been taking in newly arrived adults and children. Now politicians want to shut down Slussen which takes in 200 children and young people a year.
Since 2009, Slussen has been taking in newly arrived adults and children. Now politicians want to shut down Slussen which takes in 200 children and young people a year.
Foto: Privat
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Slussen, they're really great. They put love into what they do

That's when I made up my mind – that's where I wanted to work. Now I have been at Slussen for more than six years.

”Slussen, they're really great. They put love into what they do”. That is what Dawod Panahi wrote in 2019 when we evaluated what we were doing. His words can symbolise all the love and gratitude we often receive.

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For many people it is like coming to a completely different planet

Imagine that you come to a new country. For many people it is like coming to a completely different planet. You don't understand the language. At the same time you wonder where you can go to find help, support and advice. How do you charge a bus-card? What do you do to put your children on the waiting-list for nursery school?

Slussen is the first encounter with Sweden for many new arrivals.
Slussen is the first encounter with Sweden for many new arrivals.
Foto: Privat

Perhaps your children need mitts and shoes. Who can you talk to about your dreadful memories? Perhaps you fled from war. Perhaps somebody tried to shoot you and your children when you were on the run. Who can help you to get in touch with a psychiatric clinic?

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Who can help you to understand all the unseen rules and explain them for you?

How can you find out how community life in Sweden works, for example schools, social services and health care? Who can help you to understand all the unseen rules and explain them for you? No wonder you feel confused.

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For many this is their first contact with Sweden

At Slussen we have a lot of experience of new arrivals. Teachers, social welfare officers, a school nurse and interpreters work here. We welcome 200 children and young people every year. For many this is their first contact with Sweden.

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This is an important factor in a successful integration

An important contact, which calls for understanding, a friendly reception, an insight into other cultures and respect. We help the newcomers to find ways out into the community. This is an important factor in a successful integration.

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So it is sad and hard to understand that Slussen is perhaps on the way to being closed down

After a short time at Slussen the pupils start at a school in the municipality. The school has already been given information about the pupil's background, experiences and level of knowledge. This ensures that the school start and continued studies are as good as they can be.

New arrivals in Sweden deserve a dignified welcome. So it is sad and hard to understand that Slussen is perhaps on the way to being closed down.

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Will it be as it was before, when you, newly arrived, had to find answers to all your questions by yourself?

What will happen now? Will it be as it was before, when you, newly arrived, had to find answers to all your questions by yourself? When you had to find a school on your own?

Will new pupils once more knock on the door of the classroom, where a surprised teacher opens?