A Letter to Locals

Dear local population in Sweden.

I’m writing to you in order to let you know. To draw your attention. Or just to remind you.

It’s been almost a year now since Alan Kurdi died on the beach on his way towards freedom. One year ago now when this picture disturbed people’s lives, when everyone’s heart became stirred, when media had set its focus on refugees, when governments were pressured. It was also one year ago now when ordinary people started to ask each other: What can we do?

One year ago we hadn’t started Welcome App yet — but the first thoughts had been planted. I knew, that if there was just a simple way to do something, I would do it. And by that time, it felt like everyone would do the same. Everyone.

A year pass by. It goes fast. Christmas. Easter. Vacations. And I understand. Our calendars get booked. What once seemed like the most important thing is now not on our top 10 list.

A year also pass by slowly. Day after day after day in the same refugee camp. Waiting. Eating. Sleeping. Repeat. No contact with the country in which we live. A year when people’s hope and drive start to run out.

Many have moved on, but for the rest nothing is changed. And I need to respond to refugees I meet asking: Where are all the locals now?

I admire the resilience of many refugees I have met. The determination to not give up. Thousands of newly arrived that scroll through the app every day in order to find some way to take their next step in society. 300.000 refugees have arrived in Sweden the last three years, and a big majority of them are still in need of a social network.

I call out especially to all the men out there. A majority of refugees that arrive are men, but many locals wanting to do something are women. Men, now it’s not the time to step down and chill. Now is the time to step up and for everyone of us to take our common responsibility. I know we can do better.

They don’t need someone to depend their entire life on, they won’t call you when it doesn’t suit you, or demand a job or apartment. All that is needed is someone to once in a while ask a question to, take a coffee with, or just double check information with. We can be that person, no matter if you have 10 min on the tube every day or a couple of hours free every month.

I have met 20+ newly arrived persons through Welcome App, and they have all added to my life. Many are braver and more ambitious than people I have ever met. It has broaden my perspective of life. I got an eye-opener, a reality check. I would love for you to meet these individuals one day. Maybe today?

Therefore, the challenge goes out today to every man who reads this. Connect with someone. We created a platform to make it easy — but the platform in itself creates no value. You do.

Best,

Tobias

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