Continuing our series of profiles of refugees looking for jobs. If you live in Geneva, an easy way to help is to share this post! 

Sandra THRIVE Blog post

Written by Yasmine Sadri:

Sandra is many worlds in one. She was born in Nicaragua, which she left for the war in her teens to follow her brother, a pilot, to Russia. Once in Russia, Sandra studied to become a civil engineer. It is there she met Kinan, her Syrian husband and fellow engineer. Their unique household lives and thrives in Spanish, Russian, French, Arabic and English. 

Sandra and Kinan moved to Syria in 1996, where Sandra helped Kinan run his own engineering business. For 17 years they lived and worked in the outskirts of Damascus, a place where, at the time, their construction business allowed them to live well, caring for their three sons comfortably in the process. A comfort that disappeared as unexpectedly as the war arrived.

“The year was 2013. I remember the day we had to leave our house. It was on my birthday: June 17th. After spending hours seeking shelter from attacks in our bathtub, we took some of our affairs and left.” Sandra and her family moved closer to the center of Damascus. Shortly after the move and the realization that they could not be guaranteed safety, Sandra made the painful decision to leave everything behind for a safer life in Europe. She pauses her story, apologizes with her head bowed down, takes a deep breath, accepts a hug and continues.

It has been nearly four years since Sandra embarked on a journey with her three boys, now aged 20, 16, 12 to bring them to safety. After rejections from several countries when applying for a visa, in 2013 Geneva granted them a warm welcome. Sandra’s husband Kinan, a THRIVE- success story, remained behind in Syria. After being arrested and put in jail by the Syrian regime, he embarked on his own remarkable journey by boat and by foot to be reunited with his family in Geneva in 2015.

Despite the heavy road, Sandra has lost no time to impact others in Switzerland. She signed up to be a volunteer interpreter and language teacher immediately after arriving. Through her involvement, Sandra became a leading force, being co-responsible for the organization of the Antigel Cultural Festival in Geneva. And if that is already not impressive enough, Sandra has obtained a Master’s degree in interpretation and translation from the University of Geneva. 

Sandra is willing to work in many fields. Needless to say, her qualifications as a civil engineer and her linguistic talent reach beyond comparison. But, in the words of Sandra who has stayed at home long enough to ensure that her husband and kids, now perfectly integrated, excel before looking for employment herself, “all doors are open”.

We assure you that opening your doors for Sandra is a decision you will not regret.

Please send us a message ( or use comments below to get involved with helping Sandra get the opportunities she deserves. Thank you all for your support!

Spotlight – Sandra

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