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Halja Vehkaoja: Ukrainians wish for home accommodation for various reasons

“I just want to take a shower in peace and dress in tidy clothes”

Ukrainians fleeing the war have experienced great fear which has exhausted them both physically and mentally. Therefore many of them would rather live in a Finnish family in home accommodation and are feeling better there compared to living in a reception centre.

In my work I advice and guide people to the right place, people who are in distress. I like my work in which I can coordinate, give advice and guidance to Ukrainians also in many other matters than just home accommodation. For example how to book an appointment for registration at the police or how to get a free-of-charge photograph for it, what kind of services one can get at the reception centre and why it is important to be registered at the reception centre even if one would not live there. I inform people about many other organizations and how we co-operate with them.

If necessary I help people fleeing the war also by remote interpretation. Many take contact already from Ukraine and ask how the process of applying for temporary protection proceeds when they enter Finland.  

Silent space, tiny room

I also give trainings to those Ukrainians who are already in Finland by informing them about what Home Accommodation Network and its support association do and what support is given. We regularly organize trainings at the Ukraina HelpCenter in Vallila. In these events many things come up that people need from home accommodation.

Many Ukrainians just want to “take a shower in peace and dress in tidy clothes”, others hope for a “silent space which could be a tiny room”.

Some want to live in a Finnish family to learn the Finnish language better and to integrate into this country faster. Some say they wish to get to know Finnish culture and customs better.

Other Ukrainians want to tell about their own culture. They would like to live in a Finnish family for some time and for example teach preparing Ukrainian dishes to their hosts.

One family that had arrived from Oulu to HelpCenter in Helsinki told: “If we had a chance to live in a Finnish family, we could make Ukrainian food, culture and traditions known to them. Because now we have time for that.”

Even if there is often a lot of work, I am really satisfied that I can help people fleeing war from my home country. I am glad if I can find a couple of people or families every week and help them find a peaceful place to live in a Finnish household.  

I hope that more doors open in Finnish home for those fleeing war. I thank volunteers and activists who help us do our work and also Finns and whole Finland for the support and warm heart!

Text: Halja Vehkaoja, Community Mobilization Coordinator

Photos: Outi Neuvonen