He now wants to give something back to Cyprus

Patrick Gborie counts himself one of the luckiest of refugees. And with good reason.

After coming to Cyprus as an asylum seeker nearly two-and-a-half years ago, he has just graduated with a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from a Cypriot university and hopes to work and contribute more to Cyprus.

Patrick arrived in Cyprus as an asylum seeker in June 2021 and was swiftly taken to Pournara migrant reception centre. In the mostly tumultuous path of gaining refugee status, Patrick’s road was comparatively easy. He came from Liberia in west Africa. Following Liberia’s decades of civil war in the 1980s and 1990s, and then years of fractious recovery, many countries are still willing to grant international protection status to Liberians. Patrick was one of them.

After arriving on the island and spending his time at Pournara to get processed, Patrick enrolled in Greek classes offered as part of the Solidarity Network programme by the Nicosia municipality.

“My adviser informed me about my rights and informed that I have access to education,” he said, adding he had all his documentation from University in Sierra Leone.

Patrick is immensely grateful to his adviser at the network and the help offered to him. He was informed about all the available choices he had for studying and decided on an MBA at the Mediterranean Institute of Management.

He was accepted in September 2021 but was informed that he would have to pay all the tuition fees.

This was difficult because Patrick was still not working.

Undeterred, Patrick got a job at a petrol station at first, where he saved most of the money he needed to begin studying in September 2022.

feature nick patrick with labour minister yiannis panayiotou

Patrick with Labour Minister Yiannis Panayiotou

Finding it difficult to juggle work and studies, Patrick gave up the petrol station and found a job at a supermarket, where he could balance his work life with his studies.

“My journey has been a testament to the indomitable spirit of those seeking refuge and a fresh start in a new land. It has not been easy, and it has been filled with uncertainties and hardships,” Patrick said. “Yet, it is precisely these obstacles that have fuelled my determination to succeed and to contribute positively to my new community.”

Patrick was glad to share his story, and when asked about the hardships, he said that it had been difficult to complete his degree, but he is incredibly proud that he did.

“Graduating with an MBA represents a significant step forward in my life. It symbolises my commitment to self-improvement, the empowerment of others, and the promise of a brighter future,” he said.

Patrick credits the Solidarity Network with much of what he has achieved.

The services we provide are free of charge and include psychosocial support, legal advice, and career advice,” said Solidarity Network coordinator Katerina Koni.

The Nicosia Municipality Multifunctional Foundation implements the network with co-funding from EEA Grants and Norway Grants (85 per cent) and the Republic of Cyprus (15 per cent).

Psychologists offer psychological support to children, teenagers and adults.

A career advisor offers employment guidance and consultancy services with the aim of highlighting the skills and qualifications of beneficiaries and informing them about social inclusion and employment opportunities.

A legal advisor provides legal advice, but not representation, on issues related to immigration and asylum law, family and civil law or any other legal concerns beneficiaries might have.

“More than 600 people have benefited from our services so far. All beneficiaries are guided through the process of employment, from preparing the CV and cover letter, to preparing for an interview, to providing skills training needed for certain jobs,” said Koni.

She added that they provide tailor-made services to all beneficiaries of the programme.

“These might include specialised interventions for trauma-related experiences, therapeutic interventions on specific concerns/issues the beneficiaries express, or psychoeducational interventions on daily concerns and challenges,” she said.

On the Greek language classes, she said that they are currently running classes for adults to receive A1/A2 language certification, and upon request the network makes accommodation for others.

The services provided are offered to all people requiring support, with priority given to the residents of Nicosia municipality.

Asked about his plans, Patrick said he would love to move up in the working world of Cyprus and could see himself being a manager at the store he works at currently.

“I left my home country in search of safety. I encountered incredible support from my adopted community, including the university that welcomed me with open arms,” Patrick said.

“The pursuit of education became not only a means to gain knowledge and skills but also a means to integrate and give back.”