To me, refugee camps meant a new experience that I never had imagined to live. Honestly, in the beginning I hesitated to go there because of the shortage of information I had about the camps, and because of news I heard about the bad treatment of refugees in many countries.
My first camp was in Helsinki where I spent about a month. It was a quiet and comfortable place. There was some entertainment to enjoy in our leisure time, like a gym, a billiard table and a ping pong game. Moreover, we could invest our time in learning Finnish by enrolling in an available language institute.
Then they moved me to the countryside of Helsinki. In the beginning, the camp wasn’t prepared well to stay in, so all the Immigrants spent two weeks in the hall of the camp until rooms were set up. In one month, everything was well prepared, such as rooms, kitchen, gym, football pitch etc.
The people in the camp were either immigrants or camp staff. The immigrants were of different nationalities, and I got along with them very well since I can speak more than one language, and was able to greet them. The other ones – the camp workers – were very friendly and treated me nicely.
The camp was receiving a lot of local visitors. Some of them gave the immigrants clothes and shoes, while others were doing volunteering jobs like taking immigrants for trips, giving them Finnish language and drawing lessons, and providing a free internet café for all the immigrants, as well as giving them some information about jobs in Finland. This helped us to get acquainted with some Finnish culture and traditions.
During that time, I was spending my days preparing for the IELTS test (International English Language Testing System), walking in the nature, doing exercise in gym and helping my camp colleagues with translation.
Sometimes time went by so fast without any feelings of worry or boredom. In the last months, I began involving in new activities in my camp together with other camp dwellers. We established a media group to build bridges between immigrants and Finns. We also organized some volunteer community services by helping with cutting some old trees and chopping it into wood, helping aged people in a retirement home, and arranging football and volleyball matches with other teams.
We want to engage in positive activities rather than wasting our time doing nothing. Now I find myself in the time of finishing the camp life after six months. I felt I belonged to a big family, which I will miss. It is a hard moment for me, especially when I think about leaving all those friendly people. At the moment I am waiting to receive my own flat, where I start my life in Finland in the upcoming days.
One of the immigrants,