Souad Nanaa

My name is Souad Nanaa, I am a social entrepreneur, co-founder, and executive director of the non-profit organization SAMA For All. As an individual, I’ve experienced displacement, I am a displaced person since 2016, Syrian refugee since 2017 in France.

My story was like millions of refugees, looking for a solution which enable me to restart my life with dignity and peace and having a safe place and a stable future.

I quickly realized the difficulty of finding a stable job based on my work experience in France, like many refugees who were in their home countries doctors, engineers, executives etc. They were facing difficulties, that encourage me to look for a solution.

I decided to create an independent entity that helps refugees find a job in the art and culture sector by investing my time and skills to make it feasible and sustainable.

I am running the organization SAMA For All, which has been working since 2017 to promote cultural, social, and professional integration of refugees in the French cultural sector.  I overcome the challenge by starting from scratch in a new country and in a new field, “Art & Culture”. I am a role model and a social change maker. I have a cause to defend: to change the perception and the narrative about refugees, present the refugees as new contributors and not victims.

One of the significant challenges faced by refugees is the difficulty in accessing the local labor market and building professional network and connection.

In six years, more than a hundred refugees and migrants have trained in cultural mediation

The idea born from the need to living in dignity, enjoy the life and build a network to have a sustainable future. Many refugees face unrecognized qualifications. We aim to move from empathy towards creating opportunities and synergies between refugees and the local ecosystem.  Most of the time, the refugees work in professional sectors that do not match their competencies and experiences, which diminishes their potential and does not benefit host societies.  Our professional training program and social integration actions ensure a more prosperous future for generations to come. Advocating for dignified living conditions for refugees.

The initiative that I have created promotes access to employment through art and culture.
In six years, more than a hundred refugees and migrants have trained in cultural mediation, our partnership with Parisian museums is helping many of them getting job. 63% are women.

The DNA of SAMA For All is to bridge the gap between host societies and refugees by highlighting the potential of refugees in the host society’s culture, using the cultural sector as a lever of expression and inclusion.

Our vision:

To be a leading global organization in the field of social, cultural and professional integration of refugees.

Our mission:

To promote socio-economic and cultural integration of refugees and migrants in their host countries through learning, training, and events activities in cooperation with cultural, social, and educational institutions.

Our objectives :

  • Accelerate employability: by discovering the profession of art and culture.
  • Change the perception: by using art and culture as a lever for expression and inclusion.
  • Promote cultural diversity: by dialogue and sharing around cultures.

Our activities:

  1. Training program in cultural mediation for refugees/migrants: Museums are considered a space for dialogue; we partner with Paris’ best museums to offer a tailored training program that allows refugees to discover the professional ecosystem of museums but also to maintain a social life and cultural practice.
  2. Specialized French classes around art and culture: As language is often an obstacle for newcomers, we designed, along with museums immersion, concise French classes focusing on arts and culture to emphasize their linguistic competencies.

During the lockdown period, the classes were moved to online on Zoom platform.

  1. Organize workshops for a professional project for our beneficiaries.
  2. Organize cultural events and activities: We organize different cultural events and activities throughout the year that facilitating the socio -professional integration of refugees in their host country.

When you are a refugee, you face the most difficult challenges, such as language, professional, social, and financial barriers.

By offering a complete immersion program to refugees, connecting them with high level profiles in the cultural sector, we ultimately aim to change the narrative about refugees for their concrete potential to reveal.
The core of our program is to impact refugees’ life by fostering their socio-economic inclusion. We create an economic value and social link between the newcomers and their host countries. We build solidarity by involving the French community in our actions.

We won two prizes, one in 2019 by participating in the “2019 Bridgbuilder Challenge Initiative”, our project has selected as one of the top 5 ideas worldwide, and we have received a grant of $200,000.
The second prize was from UNHCR by participation in 2022 in the competition of the “Innovation Fund-led refugees”. Our project has selected among the 16 winners, and we have received a grant of $45,000.

To conclude, I would like to say: When you are a refugee, you face the most difficult challenges, such as language, professional, social, and financial barriers. I have experienced, like most refugees, the prejudice of being a refugee, but today I feel more confident of myself and what I have achieved. I can say that I am proud of the journey that I have taken on and what I have become. I want to give that same feeling to others looking for a second chance at life.

My ambition is to go with ‘’SAMA For All’’ beyond boundaries and have a presence worldwide where we can help more refugees getting a better life and a secured future.

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