Photographer: Aleksi Kokora – Editor: Sems Erik
Finland has witnessed a new phase at the beginning of 2013 on social, cultural, and migration levels, which was caused by the changes in the world in general.
The Arab world in particular experienced political and social fluctuations as well as wars against terrorism, which had an impact on Finland as a human rights state. It had a role in embracing migrants and refugees as part of the solution to those crises in their global form and was a positive influence at that stage.
In the view of some, this seems normal and has been dealt with dramatically from those years until now, namely, the refugee crisis and the challenges of that period in terms of attracting refugees, the politics of this, and the methods of integrating them into the Finnish community system.
Here we say that we, through our platform, will put forward a new form in the circulation of this topic by highlighting the positive influence role of immigrants of all scales and the societal role that they portray to be part of the enrichment of the Finnish cultural system as well as an essential supporter in the development of the migration system despite all the challenges, which will be an essential element in the positive integration of immigrants in different fields and various ways, each according to its efficiency and diligence.
The person behind this article has a juristic academic background. Therefore, he is a social work specialist and an activist in human rights work that is addressed ethnic minorities or immigrants in general in Finland. We intended it to be a positive example by localizing it and inspiring others for we believe that positive settlement in society is based on the presentation of a distinctive model.
I am originally from Iraq and currently 35 years old. In 2015, I came to Finland as a refugee because of the security deterioration in Iraq at that time. I studied law in Iraq, where I practiced attorney work for five years. In Finland, I studied as a social worker at the University of Tampere for Applied Sciences and graduated with a degree in 2021. I’m now an expert at the Finnish Refugee Council. My hobbies are exercising, watching football, reading, and traveling.
The decision to migrate from Iraq to Finland was not an easy one. I was forced to make it because there was no choice but to get out of the crisis that I was living in. This made me lose clarity when it came to my future visions, and it happened in a very short time. The migration route was fraught with danger and was never easy for me or for anyone who had suffered a period of war with many causes and effects.
Frankly, before the immigration decision was made, I didn’t have much information about Finland. I did not choose Finland beforehand. I decided to live in a safe place where I could build my life and say my opinions freely without fear, and I think that Finland’s choice was the right decision for that period.
Before getting a residence permit, there were a lot of difficulties: facing a transition phase after leaving our homeland, psychological and social difficulties, and many other things. Not to mention our presence in the refugee center. Our lifestyle changed during that period. It was not encouraging at times, as the standard of living or quality of services was not at an appropriate level, because at that time, Finland was living with an increasing number of immigrants. The policy of dealing with that stage is changing dramatically and constantly witnessing changes to control it. However, this should not be a curse or an excuse for any shortcomings that occurred at that stage.
At that time, the migration crisis was an emerging global crisis like the Arab revolutions, not similar to the regular crises related to migration that happened before.
I believe that during those times, refugees from various cultural backgrounds were not given the right to play a role in inventing solutions that were consistent with our needs to get out of the main crisis, namely, how to deal with us as refugees in the most effective way.
This has contributed to negative societal manifestations of racism at times.
And, as you might imagine, since 2015, thousands of migrants have remained in asylum centers, and I believe they need to be better informed regarding their condition and facilitate the process for them to obtain asylum.
Suomen pakolaisapu and new opportunities
It is a great organization that does a valuable job for human rights. In addition, I work with professionals with whom my skills are constantly evolving. The Finnish Refugee Council provides equal assistance to all people regardless of background.
I am proud of my work as an expert within the Finnish Refugee Council, considering this a valuableopportunity for me. Therefore, it reflects the extent to which Finnish institutions understand the effective role that immigrants can play in those institutions if they have opportunities to be part of the solution and change and are involved in the decision-making.
As a result, I will never forget the new skills and knowledge I have acquired in the field of social and humanitarian work.
This organization is doing a great job at the refugee level, not only in Finland but also globally, and my presence in it is a great responsibility. I believe it is an inspiration for other migrants to have a positive vision of the privileged job opportunities that exist in Finland and to play a positive and influential role in it.
I am attempting to play an effective and valuable role for protectors and migrants through the services provided by the Finnish Refugee Council at all levels. I should have as much confidence as the Finnish Refugee Council has given me.
Optimistic despite the blurred vision
I am glad to hear that there is an upcoming amendment to the Integration Law in Finland. It may help speed up the procedures and steps of integration. I hope that the impact of this new law will not only be on immigrants but also on society to take part in the implementation process. In addition, I hope that the immigrant with a university degree will be given more attention so that he will have a chance to achieve his dreams and goals.
Because of the cases and problems that require development integration policies in Finland, especially for immigrants coming to Finland with university degrees and trying to re-attract them in their fields of specialization, even if relatively. And not restricted to specific disciplines that are less than their capabilities and areas of specialization, as well as raising the bar for practice opportunities available to immigrants.
In general, many immigrants, despite challenges, have been able to prove their presence and face all the obstacles facing them in learning the language and choosing alternative specializations to facilitate their entry and integration into the labor market. However, compared to the general situation of immigrants in senior positions like the rest of Europe, Finland is still in non-primary positions, which requires us as immigrants to work more, as well as to reach our voices to the highest levels to enable and activate the role of immigrants in Finnish society at all levels.
At the beginning of my professional life
Immigrants who seek to work by being more diligent activists in researching various job opportunities whether in person or through agencies. Thinking beyond any doubt that the labor market in Finland needs a great deal of diligence. In addition learning to apply for a job and how to offer their services to companies that offering work and good preparation in advance for job interviews, we cannot forget the focus on language learning, which will be a tool that will help more in that.
We all know that immigrants often have specializations, a specialized academic level of education from their home country. Sometimes it is easy to get a job in the same field because of the lack of employees in the labor market. However, in other specialties, you will need a very strong background of the language or must reconsider studying the same field again in Finland to be able to meet the country’s requirements. Studying law, for example, presents a great challenge for anyone who sees the development of their career in Finland. Therefore, diligence must be doubled.
But I think that we migrants must have enough patience and flexibility to get through all those initial stages of getting a job opportunity.
Personally, the main pursuit after I got a residency in Finland was to focus on learning the language well and researching major disciplines that somehow aligned with my experience and skills. This may have cost me a lot of time, but shortly after I graduated, I was able to get a job opportunity that I think is a good starting point and where I can benefit other immigrants and use my skills.
Considering that Finland has a bright future for the social services sector, The Finnish labor market requires specialization among its various people.
2021 Vuoden pakolaiset & achievements
The Refugee of the Year Award is an annual award given by the Finnish Refugee Council to a refugee living and residing in Finland who has excelled and is effective in the community in a given area or issue.
The mission of the Finnish Refugee Council is to uphold and advance the status of refugees in Finnish society. The award comes with a symbolic donation of 1,000 euros. The prize was first awarded on Women’s Day on 8 March 1998.
The requirements of the competition
In order to choose the year’s top refugee, it is important to consider how involved the contender is in Finland’s public life. The incentive awardee must be a refugee living in Finland who is at least 18 years old.
The candidate is required to submit a selection proposal outlining their areas of excellence. The proposal is open to all and the nomination of candidates from all over Finland is encouraged and can be submitted in Finnish, Swedish, or English. The candidate must have a thorough understanding of the statements’ goals and his own plans. The nominee needs to be accessible for events leading up to and during the nomination. The candidate may not be working with the Refugee Council. The price may be used more than once.
The recipient of the prize is urged to take part in seminars and media gatherings, as well as the activities of the Finnish Refugee Council during the award year to raise awareness of the refugee situation. I was honored to be one of the people crowned with this award and to be part of a group of creative activists in the community whose excellence and diligence Finland attests to as immigrants refugees in the Finnish society and conveying their voices.
All refugees are advised to apply for the Best Refugee Award to influence the community by becoming the voice of minorities.
Right now, my main focus is to remain working in refugee-oriented associations, and of course, I always strive to develop myself to get opportunities that will make my community impact more powerful and effective.
I have taken part in several demonstrations in Finland for human rights. For example, I took part in a demonstration called Oikeus-elää. I also participate in different seminars, delivering speeches on many occasions, trying to have a positive impact on our society.