I was lucky to meet the amazing people in Familia through my internship last Autumn. Many of you have been in Familia’s community already for several years but my journey here only just started in September. Some of you have found Familia ry very recently just like me. Many new Familia’s members share similar experiences about migration and integration. It’s been at the same time inspiring and worrying to hear your individual stories of immigrating to Finland. The things which we’ve spoken about have touched me in many ways.
Finnish Immigration Service is in charge of handling all of the permits for foreign nationals. The process can be very different depending on an individual’s origins and reasons to move to Finland. One might move due to family reasons or work opportunities and some are seeking a safer environment.
Brenda is from Uganda and she has been living in Finland for about 11 months now. At the time of our interview she was in the waiting period of the residence permit decision process. Brenda has been told that she must wait for about 6 months to get the decision. The time could be less, or it could be longer.
When I asked her how it feels to be in the waiting period of the process, Brenda told me she’s feeling very anxious. “It’s the fact that you don’t hear any news about who got permitted. It’s also very difficult to stay the same because you have to open up a lot of things you’ve been stored up in the back of your memories.”
Brenda is also worried about her living conditions and being alone. “You have to shift to other camp and stay with new people who doesn’t understand you and you don’t understand them. Being alone brings a lot of loneliness and sadness.”
Brenda told me that Familia helps her keep busy. While being busy she has less time to worry. She explained how Familia gives her a chance to socialize with other people. Brenda has also taken part in Finnish basic course and continuation course which have improved her Finnish language skills a lot. Brenda is also interested in working as a volunteer in Familia. She loves kids and working with them. “Their world is stress free, playful and happy. Children bring a lot of joy and inspire you to enjoy the moment.”
Brenda — among many others — has emphasized that Familia offers something more than just language courses and other groups. Familia’s community has its own impact in bringing people together and helping one another.
“It’s very hard for someone to come to this country. There are people who have spent even a year in Finland but don’t know where to go. Familia is doing a great job because they are helping a lot of people. Familia gives people information, brings hope and shows a way around things.”