Photographer: Aleksi Kokora – Editor: Sems Erik
From the arena of Finnish politics, we have chosen to talk about Hussein al-Taee, a 39-year-old Baghdadian man who arrived in Finland as a quota refugee back in 1993.
Not only did he graduate with honors from University of Warsaw’s International Business Program (IBP), but he is also a Finnish politician currently representing the Social Democratic Party of Finland within the Uusimaa constituency in Parliament.
In the spring of 2019, he was elected to Parliament. And in 2021, he was elected to the Municipal Council of Vantaa, Finland’s fourth largest city. He is also a member of the Environment, Commerce, and Grand Committees, as well as a deputy member of the Employment and Equality Committee. Additionally, Mr. al-Tree is the vice chair of the Municipal Council’s Education Board. And one must not forget that outside of politics, he enjoys various hobbies: old cars, (particularly BMWs), football, gardening, reading, and spending time with his family.
Things some people don’t know
Despite the sophisticated social environment for a family engaged in business, his family’s wealth plummeted to zero, but they managed to stay alive and together prior to the 1991 uprising in Iraq. Now as a politician, al-Taee has actively reunited families that were separated due to war, migration, or a conflict. Rather than monetary wealth, the most valuable asset is one’s health, as well as the ability to stay together as a family. Looking back, al-Taee knew he had to give back to society and help others when he arrived in Finland as a 10-year-old boy in 1993. As the oldest of six siblings, that was always a part of his life and upbringing.
“The family does not have to be limited to leisure time because its importance is to make it an “essential” priority in life“
The journey, and how it began
Finland’s remarkable natural elements are composed of forests, rivers, and snowfall, all of which captivated my attention as a 10-year-old child entering the country on November 3, 1993. During the first six months, I learned the Finnish language, fell in love with reading books, and went to a regular elementary school. As expected, other kids were interested in my origins;, and through play and a good school system, I started to receive good grades and managed well in society. Reading books, especially the comic book Aku Ankka, was essential in learning the Finnish language, understanding Finnish humor, and emerging into the culture.
“I believe that being well integrated requires good teachers in school, being extremely interested in everything around you, reading books, and having Finnish friends.”
My personality and some of my bases
As a sociable person, I am good at the art of coping with those around me, which means I am never alone when I try to make something happen. This has helped me with my personal development, as well as my political career.
My political career has not prevented me from engaging in humanitarian work, nor would I compromise on it because humanitarian activism is an essential part of my life.
With my deep understanding of Finland’s culture and language, I have successfully allowed myself to be a part of this country’s development system., While Finland holds a great place in my heart, it does not negate what it is like to come from a clumsy cultural background, let alone being the bridge that makes it easy to investigate the assimilation of Finnish culture among other minorities in Finland very effectively.
For me, it’s crucial that Finland keeps its promises to respect human rights and to treat everyone equally regardless of where they come from.
I can never find words to describe what I have experienced here, but the most prominent one, would have to be: the moment when I was invited to work for President Martti Ahtisaari.
Language is key. It requires more effort for some people who come to Finland at the age of, 40 years and beyond.. But for everyone else, integration is very manageable, especially for the children if they are given the right tools to succeed. . It is a sad story for kids, whether they are born in Finland or not, when they don’t do well in school. As a member of the board of education, I work hard to help students gain the best outcomes.
Some parents complain that their kids don’t do well in their home countries due to poor education and bad circumstances. In Finland, you have the best quality of education and the best circumstances. It is the parent’s responsibility to take care of their kids and ensure the best opportunities for their future, as these duties do not fall upon the school and society as much as they are the responsibility of the parents. On the other hand, it should be noted that poverty and the lack of equal opportunity sometimes can be the strongest opponent in children’s ability to feel accomplished and hopeful. But in some cases, it might encourage kids to excel and be better than everyone else.
Objectives in progress
I will run for the election as a member of Parliament in 2023 from the Uusimaa area, which includes Espoo, Vantaa, Kerava, Järvenpää, Nurmijärvi, Tuusula, Porvoo, Karjaa, Kauniainen, Kirkkonummi, Loviisa, and other nearby cities . With good support, I can become a minister one day. This would encourage kids to believe that no matter what your background is, you can be anything you want to be in life as long as you work hard.
Regardless of my position, I will achieve my goal to reduces poverty in Finland, as well as unemployment and homelessness, and ensure that families are supported.
Let’s all agree, that…
If people begin to see Finland as their future home, they will work to make it excellent. When entering Finland, you must immerse yourself completely in its culture and set four goals: learn the language, get a job, become a Finnish citizen, and buy a home. This type of mindset will keep you properly integrated as an active participant in the development of Finland, along with your family. While Finland is your new home, don’t forget about your roots.
Teach your children about their native culture and language, as; it will further enrich their lives.