They took the leap from Bangladesh to Bastuträsk

Golam Rabbani, 40, and Kazi Nusrat Razia, 36, moved to Bastuträsk with their daughters Raifa and Mahnoor in mid-December. The snow and cold took a big adjustment, but were not the only differences - the area they come from is one of the most densely populated in the world.
Golam Rabbani, 40, and Kazi Nusrat Razia, 36, moved to Bastuträsk with their daughters Raifa and Mahnoor in mid-December. The snow and cold took a big adjustment, but were not the only differences - the area they come from is one of the most densely populated in the world.

Kazi Nusrat Razia and her family left the bustling city of Dhaka in Bangladesh for quiet Bastuträsk. Kazi's ultimate aim is to carry on as a doctor in Sweden, but for now she works in nursing and health care for the municipality of Norsjö, while studying medical Swedish at the university. "It is a dream come true," says Kazi.

Bastuträsk 30 januari 2024 09:00

In December, Kazi Nusrat Razia, 36, her husband Golam Rabbani, 40, and their daughters Raifa, 7, and Mahnoor, 3, moved into an apartment on Kronogatan in Bastuträsk.

The transition is one of stark contrasts, as the family comes from Dhaka, one of the most densely populated cities in the world (it has more than twice as many inhabitants as the whole of Sweden). 

Although they had a good life there - Kazi worked as a doctor in various hospitals and Golam, a data engineer, was a project manager in a large IT company - they were looking for something different.

The journey to Sweden and Bastuträsk was both long and challenging for Golam, Kazi, and their family. Now, they are determined to build a future in their new homeland.

Contributing to their decision were the environmental challenges in their home country, affecting the air, water, and overall environment.

– There is so much dust in the air. Sometimes we would get fever and chills from it, says Kazi.

Bangladesh's unstable economy and the prospect of a better future for their daughters also played a role in their decision. As they researched, Sweden emerged as one of the best countries to live in. They first arrived in 2018, when Kazi was studying at Umeå University.

After receiving her degree and validating her medical qualifications, the family returned to Bangladesh a few years later. However, the dream of building a future in Sweden remained and is now coming true.

The choice of Bastuträsk began when Kazi got in touch with Martine Westerlund, who has worked on initiatives such as "Multinations Norsjö" to increase migration to the municipality. Together with Emma Långström from the municipality's care department, Martine explored a model where Kazi could work in health care while studying medical Swedish.

Kazi works as a personal assistant in Bastuträsk. Soon she will also start studying medical Swedish, a course offered by Umeå University, but largely conducted remotely.

This led to Emma matching Kazi with a resident in Bastuträsk who needed both personal assistance and medical help.

They got on immediately, and now Kazi works for him as a personal assistant, a situation that benefits both parties.

– He is happy to have the help of a doctor, and for me, it feels like an honor, Kazi says.

In addition to her job, she will begin studying Swedish this spring at Umeå University. Once she completes that, along with her internship, she will finally get her Swedish medical license, which is expected within two years.

Although juggling work and study can be a bit stressful, Kazi believes it's worth it: 
– It's something I have to do.

Golam worked in IT in Bangladesh and now hopes to find something similar nearby. But he is open to other options - he just wants to work.

During the day, the children attend school and preschool in Bastuträsk, while Golam does his best to find a job. Ideally, he'd like to work in IT, but he's open to other possibilities. He is also considering starting his own business importing and selling clothing from Asia.

– I am ready to start now. But it's also important to understand how the rules and the Swedish job market work, he says.

Many aspects of life are different in Sweden, especially the climate. While temperatures in Bangladesh can reach 40 degrees Celsius, the family experienced as many minus degrees during the recent cold snap in northern Sweden.

– It wasn't fun, admits Golam.

Still, they have a positive first impression of Bastuträsk. It's quiet and pleasant, and the people are friendly.

– People are welcoming, helpful, and friendly, says Kazi.

Kazi and Golam have lived in Sweden before. At that time, they resided in Umeå, and it was there that their youngest daughter was born.

Fortunately, winter doesn't last forever. After living in Umeå and hearing the locals' stories, they look forward to the time when the snow melts, flowers bloom, and berries and mushrooms grow in the forest.

Then there will be lots of excursions, and even the children will join in. Kazi reveals that she prefers to spend her free time with her family, and mushroom picking is one of her great interests.

But not only does she like to pick mushrooms, she also likes to cook them. And not just with mushrooms.

– Cooking is my passion, she says.

When asked what she misses about Bangladesh, Kazi says she most misses her mother, sisters, father, mother-in-law and sister-in-law - important people close to her.

But she also misses her spices.

– In Asia they have different kinds. You can find them in Sweden too, but it's different. They're not as hot here.

What doesn't she miss?

– The dust, the pollution and the noise. There's too much noise, cars honking all the time.

At the same time, a car is something Kazi and Golam could use right now. With few buses to Norsjö and Skellefteå, it's a challenge to rely on public transportation when they need to travel for services not available in Bastuträsk.

Most importantly, however, the family continues on its chosen path and adapts to life in Sweden. The journey here has been anything but straightforward, as Emma Långström of Norsjö Municipality can attest.

Emma Långström, unit manager for disability care at Norsjö municipality, explains that there was a lot of paperwork before she could finally hire Kazi.

She mentions that this is the first time the municipality has hired someone in this way.

– We stumbled a lot in the dark. There were a lot of contacts with Migrationsverket and a lot of paperwork. At the same time, we've learned a lot, she says.

The fact that Kazi wasn't in Sweden made the process even more taxing. 

It's crucial that the personal assistant and the patient click, so what would have happened if they didn't?

– Luckily it went really well, says Emma, noting that the solution is a win-win for everyone:

– We need skills, and she needs to change her life. She's been working for a month and a half now, and she's taken us by storm.

What difficulties did you encounter? Well, one issue that arose was the significantly increased salary requirement for labor immigration, which resulted in a lot of additional paperwork.

Another concern was the long processing time at the migration office. The initial answer was that the processing time was 14 months.

However, this was resolved when it was discovered that faster direct processing could be obtained if the application was complete.

– Kazi was the driving force, and Martine's help was invaluable. It's been a team effort, says Emma.

How important is it to find solutions like this?

– Extremely important. In Norsjö municipality, we have a very difficult time finding skilled care workers, and there are not many personal assistants.

– It's extremely important for me, and even more important for the patient, who needs to feel safe.

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