Sager Al-Anezi was born in Kuwait as a stateless person, which, he says, means you simply don't exist. Faced with the lack of any real prospects, he decided to take his future into his own hands and came to Bulgaria to study medicine. He has subsidiary protection ("humanitarian") status and an identity card, but he has not yet managed to become a citizen. He stayed in Bulgaria after graduating in medicine, because he thinks that the country has more to offer him, and also because he thinks that he has something to offer in return: "Wherever I go, Bulgarians tell me that they hope I stay here, because the country needs doctors. Your doctors are fleeing abroad. Maybe at least one foreign doctor could stay here.”
And he stays, even though he has faced many hurdles at every turn. First, he couldn't specialize in cardiac surgery because of issues with his documents, then he went to work in the village of Trilistnik near Plovdiv, where he stayed for only three months, because it turned out that the local practice was to fire doctors after a couple of months. Now, he works at the Blood Donation Center in Sofia and wants to specialize in immunohematology, but he first has to pass a really difficult exam in Bulgarian, the goal of which seems to be to stop foreign doctors from staying in Bulgaria, even as Bulgarian doctors have moved abroad.
However, every day is still bright. "I keep saying this –there is a difference between the people and the system in Bulgaria," Sager says. Whenever he feels down, talking to a friend or joking with his colleagues is enough to cheer him up. "But my brightest moments were in the village. Everything is completely different there. It's nicer, quieter, more peaceful. They accepted me as one of them. In Sofia, things are much more difficult, it is not like in a small village." This is probably why he has not severed ties with the village and continues to help and give advice to his former neighbors. "You are at work, yes, but you are also working elsewhere. And when you have the time, you pick up the phone and answer their questions, advise them.” Sager adds that he would never refuse to give advice to someone close to him, and the fact that people reach out to him clearly means that there are not enough GPs in Bulgaria.
For more than ten years, Multi Kulti Collective has been a hospitable Bulgarian hub for refugees and migrants who enter our local Kafkaesque reality. The organization helps with integration (when such help is needed) and actively works with foreigners in Bulgaria, and along the way, has accumulated an ever-expanding database of interesting characters. This naturally led to their new initiative "Migrants got talent." Its goal is to acquaint the larger Bulgarian society with foreigners with captivating stories, talents and professions, and to show that migrants are an asset and not a burden to Bulgaria.