Ukrainian Refugee Lands Job With Local Architectural Firm

Posted on: 1 October 2022

Ukrainian Refugee Lands Job With Local Architectural Firm

A man who was forced to flee Kyiv after the city was shelled has told how a Gourock-based business gave him a job when no one else would.

Ali Harissi had to leave behind his life in Ukraine and escape with his wife after the Russian invasion earlier this year.

The 26-year-old eventually arrived in Scotland and was taken on by local firm Rebecchi Architectural after numerous rejections from other companies.

Originally from Lebanon, Ali was forced to move to Ukraine earlier this year, due to his home country's difficult economic climate.

He and his wife, who comes from Ukraine, hoped that they could start a new life together in Kyiv.

But their dreams were shattered when Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to invade the country in February.

Ali said: "It was so hard to leave everything behind us and start again.

"We were in a really unstable place and it felt like everything was coming down on us.

"We finally got out towards the end of May.

"We tried to stay, but it was becoming more and more dangerous.

"When they started attacking and bombing Kyiv I told my wife I didn't want her to be in that situation, and we left."

Despite having a degree in architecture, Ali struggled to find employment when he first arrived in Scotland.

His plight came to the attention of Rebecchi Architectural Director, Marco Rebecchi, who brought him on to the company's design team in August.

Marco said: "Our initial introduction came through the chair of the board of trustees at Ardgowan Hospice.

"I was speaking to the hospice about various things and because they knew my background in architecture they told me about Ali.

"When I saw his CV I asked him in for an interview and we then gave him a two-week trial.

"He's been here ever since.

"The team have really gelled well with Ali, they get involved and help him out.

"We've had him working on preparing visuals for some nice developments in Kilmacolm and he's been doing a good job of that.

"There's a lot of people who would automatically think that people coming over from a war-torn place won't have any skills.

"But there are a lot of talented people and Ali is a testament to that.

"He had his own practice in Lebanon and wanted to start one in Ukraine before the war.

"He's a great addition to the team."

In addition to his degree and previous experience, Ali also speaks five different languages.

Marco believes that Ali provides a different perspective from the design company's other staff, who are all local to Inverclyde.

Ali says the Gourock firm is the 'perfect company' to work for.

He added: "I tried to apply so many times for lots of different companies, but no one would accept me because I came with no experience over here.

"When I came to Rebecchi Architectural, Marco said that he knew I didn't have any experience, but that he wanted to help me.

"They welcomed me into the team and they're always helping me.

"In Lebanon and Ukraine we had a different way of doing things, but they've really helped me understand things over here.

"I'm very thankful to them for giving me the opportunity to show them what I can do."

Rebecchi Architectural

This article appeared in The Greenock Telegraph.

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