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Mustapha Al Shawwa


Near Galata tower in Istanbul, Mustapha worked as a waiter in a restaurant after months of painstaking search for a living.

After years of waiting by the door for the return trip home to Syria, he fully unpacked his bags and finally reconciled with the idea of staying in Turkey.

In the restaurant, the main source of his income, Mustapha decided to keep himself busy, physically and mentally, and serve customers with dedication and to help them with anything and everything they needed.

“Excuse me!”, a customer called out to him in a Turkish language which Mustapha instantly recognized as having a hint of Syrian influence.

Mustapha approached the customer and helped him move his laptop to a spot near an electrical outlet. His attention was drawn by lines of code on the screen, which brought him back to his desire to be a computer engineer, had it not been for his current fate!

While he was overwhelmed by his ideas, he interrupted the man in a nice tone and in Arabic, saying: “Are you writing code?” It was a simple question that opened the door for Mustapha to ask the man many questions about Syrians in Turkey and about how to work in the field of coding, which would bring him hope and fulfilment.

The man said, “You can learn on your own on a platform called One Million Arab Coders, which will benefit you a lot. Don’t surrender and give in to fate. Take control of your future.”

Mustapha talks about the lessons he has learned and applied since that day. He talks a lot about his charitable and professional projects, including an application in Arabic which currently takes up all his time and thoughts. The goal of the application is to provide comprehensive information about doctors and hospitals in Istanbul, a city he has grown to like and now sees himself a part of.