Taken from Zinda... Assyrians in Finland

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Posted by Jeff ( on November 13, 2001 at 19:12:45:


Assyrians began to come to Finland in 1991. Today there are 115 Assyrians living here including
children, women and men. A majority of them live in the city of Oulu.

Assyrians in Finland have a social club recognized by the Finnish government. This means that
Assyrians are invited to participate in the government of Finlandís social functions. Generally, Assyrians
go to trips and picnics organized by the Social Services Department.

The club holds bi-annual elections. Mr Paulus is the current president of the club.

Assyrians also have a Seeta (Executive Board). This is the Church Affairs Committee also elected
biannually according the constitution of the Assyrian Church of the East. Current Chairwoman is
Victoria Yosip.

Three or four times each year Metropolitan Mar Odisho sends a Qasha (priest) accompanied by a
Shamasha (deacon) to perform religious services especially on Christmas and Easter. Services are
performed in the Lutheran church. Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches are also open to our priests.
All the three churches have been very helpful to the Assyrians.

Last year the Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church requested the ladies of the Assyrian Church to
prepare food for the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the Orthodox Bishopric in Oulu. The women
prepared dolma, biryani and other Assyrian dishes for the more than 400 Finnish dignitaries that attended
the anniversary celebration.

Assyrian refugees who enjoy permanent residency status and those who have already obtained Finnish
citizenship are eligible to vote in this countryís elections. Last year Assyrians voted for the Green party
candidate in Oulu and he was elected due to the 40 Assyrian votes cast for him.

Some Assyrians have opened Pizza restaurants. These are called: Nohadra, Nineveh, Mari, Star, Eeve
and Tuera.

All Assyrians use their own cars as means of transportation. In the meantime nearly all Assyrians are
on government welfare. Finland is technologically a highly advanced country and employs well-educated
people. Except for a few Assyrians, most are unemployed and receive generous social services
allowances or unemployment allowances. Education from kindergarten through college is free. Medical
services, medicines, rent, water, heat, electricity are all paid for by Social Services Dept.

All are required to attend language classes which lasts from 3 to six months. Some have become fluent
in Finnish language.

Bearers of Permanent Residence Permit (Green card) can travel to any of the 13 European Union
countries without visa and can work there if they can find a job.

We are quite comfortable here. The only complaint is that we want more Assyrians to come here so
that we could have a wider audience to socialize with. As the Assyrian adage goes: we will not be happy even in paradise so long as we are separated from our
fellow Assyrians and scattered around the world.

Patrous Androw

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