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Kokkola, here I am!

Oksana never really thought she’d move to live in another country. Then, life happened. Her husband had worked for several years in Finland as a berry picker and in autumn 2021 he was asked if he was interested in working permanently in Finland. They felt the offer was interesting enough to take the chance and so the family headed towards Kokkola.

At first, even the thought of moving didn’t seem like a good idea, but after careful consideration, Oksana decided to take a leap of faith. She tells me their original plan was to save enough to one day have the chance to buy their own house in Ukraine.

It was easy to settle down in Kokkola

Oksana tells me that settling down and integrating into Kokkola was made significantly easier with the help of the Ukrainian community here, through which they received help with many everyday matters. Their initial living situation was also arranged with the community’s help, as it took a few months for her family to find their own apartment. Oksana says that she found settling down in Kokkola quite easy. In her opinion the differences between Ukrainians and Finns are ultimately very small – the cultures and lifestyles are very close to each other. Even the climate is similar.


“I think Finns and Ukrainians are very similar, we’ve also had kind employers who treat us well. In my opinion it hasn’t been difficult for us to settle here. It’s peaceful here. People go to work and come home, without having to be afraid. Sometimes, I feel very guilty that I’m here while my little brother and many other Ukrainians are suffering in the middle of a war.””

Oksana Nedoviz

Welcome Office has been a big help

Oksana saw an ad from Welcome Office, which urged immigrants to contact them if they needed information, advice, or help with anything work or school related. One day, while taking care of other business, she decided to visit the service point to ask for advice and help. Welcome Office advised her to learn Finnish first and foremost. Oksana took the advice and started a four month long intensive Finnish language course. She tells me she picked up the language fairly quickly and already uses Finnish quite a lot in her daily life.

After four months of studies, she felt that she knew enough Finnish to visit Welcome Office for more advice. Things went even better than she could have expected, as this visit got her a job as a teacher’s assistant. Oksana tells me she’s really grateful for all the good advice and help Welcome Office has offered her.

Concern for loved ones

Oksana turns somber thinking back to February, when Russia invaded Ukraine. She had always thought her generation would’ve been the one to change Ukraine for the better but instead, they are the generation that has to fight in a senseless war. She tells me she’s often thought about how different her life would be now if they hadn’t made the decision to move to Kokkola. Their families live in the Ukrainian countryside, where their own garden has offered the opportunity to grow their own food. Oksana says she tries to keep in touch with their families as much as possible in this situation and that the concern for them never goes away.

Able to help Ukrainians as a school attendance assistant

Her job as a teacher’s assistant is to assist Ukrainian children. Oksana says that many of these children comes from Western Ukraine – in the middle of the worst of the war, where the children have seen and experienced things no child ever should. She tells me that drawing is a way for the children to communicate their feelings they otherwise might not be able to, which is why she always first asks the kids to draw what they carry in their hearts. Oksana is holding back tears when she tells that many of them draws a broken heart and almost everyone draw Ukraine.

“I do everything I can for the Ukrainians who have fled here. I’m happy to have been able to help with communication, since Ukrainians often don’t really speak English. I also started a Finnish language course. It’s very important for me to do as much as I can from here for Ukrainians and Ukraine.”