Will the Dream Return to Hjälbo?


Abo Moradi is a Swede of Kurdish-Persian background from Iran. He is firmly established in the socio-cultural-political landscape personally and professionally but he wants to do something for the newcomers. He started an organization called ‘Biston Föreningen i Göteborg: Verksamhet och aktiviteter för medlemmar’ which aims ‘to integrate’ the newly-arrived immigrants in to Swedish society and imbibe the values of equality (jämställdhet) particularly the gender equality apart from the rights.

The organization is based at Hjälbo in Angered in northeast Gothenburg aka Göteborg. It organizes and conducts Swedish language courses; introductory courses in maths, English and computers; and vocational training for immigrants. Abo Ordförande, the president, says the biggest ‘challenge is finding jobs for them’.

Abo Moradi (right) with visitors seeking guidance at his office in Hjälbo

The key issue is unemployment, and it has no answers. Kristina Louwen, the Swedish language teacher, says the youth in the area has no role models because most of the children’s parents are themselves unemployed. What is the solution for the unemployment? Kristina thinks, instead of sending the unemployed to ‘stöd och matchning’ through Arbestförmedlingen, the politicians should think of creating employment and creating favourable conditions for employers to hire the unemployed.

The Swedish media has been reporting consistently that the area in Gothenburg has the highest unemployment rate and lowest household incomes. Expressen reported five years ago that Hjällbo started as perfect Swedish middle-class society but in few years a quarter of the population disappeared, so was the dream. They moved out as their incomes rose and lived in covetable areas. Most of the residents at that time came from the inner parts of Gothenburg such as Landala, Gårda, Masthugget, Majorna and Olskroken where they lived in smaller apartments.

The flats in the area were allotted over the years to the newcomers, and the area slowly got identified as the area of immigrants. Today the area has immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia among others, and the widely spoken language is Arabic.

The organization has 3 fulltime members, and answers basic questions (How housing works in Sweden? How to look for a job? How to get work experience? Do you have questions about your rights?) to conducting get-togethers for women.

Sätt färg på is working closely in the area to encourage the youth to learn a skill like painting, and find their way to employment.

Yet, Hjälbo is neatly maintained area with harmony among people. But the dream to return to Hjälbo, there should be employment for the unemployed.

Hjällbo’s first tenants came in 1968, and the shopping centre was completed in 1970. There are about 2300 flats, two villas and 231 cottages. According to Caritas i Hjälbo there are people respresenting more than 80 countries and more than 100 languages are spoken. The housing is maintained by the municipal housing (of Göteborgs Stad) company Hjällbobostaden AB.