• Tommi Sakari Aalto

I gave a home to an asylum seeker.

I took an asylum seeker into my home for 13 months from February 2019 to May 2020.



The person in question shall remain unnamed here, because when I asked if he would want to be mentioned, he preferred not to - for the fear of being stigmatized because of his refugee status and how people would treat him because of it.


He had come to study a university degree in in Finland. I used to study in the same academic institute in the past. The connection between us was found there.


From the beginning of 2019, the situation in his home country became more difficult and his return became impossible, also affecting his mental health. Earlier in the in the spring, he was called to appear in the Reception Center in Lappeenranta and upon arrival he was detained with the possibility of deportation. During his time in detainment, while Migri officials were looking into his affairs and evaluating his status and changed circumstances back home - he lost his work permit and student housing.


After being released he contacted me in February 2019 and we met. He told me what had happened and what circumstances had led to his homelessness. As an asylum seeker, he had also lost his work permit and previously held job - and by the time we met he had already spent most of his savings staying in cheap hostel rooms and crashing at other friends' places for a couple nights at a time, but finding a stable stay was was difficult.


I offered to accommodate him in my small two-room apartment a month before the Parliamentary Elections and so then we decided he would move in to my place. All my previously done schedules and plans went haywire.


In Christian-way, I shared with him everything from what little I had - we ate the same food , took turns watching tv - if there was nothing mutually interesting on - we even shared the time and taking turns in using the living room and bedroom for some peace and quiet, to study and work - and for relaxation. I never asked him for any kind of compensation, not for the rent, not for electricity, nor for anything we ate. I didn’t even apply for social assistance, or benefits - because I didn’t consider it right a right thing to do.


More important than pursuing self-interest and some form of compensation for myself, was to help a person in need. Of course it wasn't always easy and we had some clashes too - got to each other's nerves every now and then, burning fuses like candles - but everything was always settled and we always reached a consensus through discussions.


Over the next 13 months, we discussed a great deal of issues very analytically and in-depth, such as the US presidential election, Finnish immigration policy, life in Finland and life in Africa. I must say he is by far one of the most intelligent persons I had the pleasure talking and debating with. Might I say that we both grew from those discussions.


At the same time, he was going through therapy and I helped him to save up money for a rent deposit needed for his own apartment for the time would come for him to move out - into his own place eventually - in-order for him be able to do so and live at ease, independently on his own home from the start.


The parliamentary elections, and the European elections flew in the spring of 2019. There was no victory in that field, but the friendship and my understanding of differences strengthened more than I could even have thought of st the time when I offered to take him in to home to live. So I don’t feel like I losing the election but on the contrary I think I won something even greater - the fear of unknown and prejudice and to some extent, even the fear of unpredictability.


In May 2020 that time came, and he moved into his own home. I painted the walls of his new apartment into his liking and helped to assemble some of the furniture. We became good friends and continue to be friends to this day.


If there is something wise say one could try to say about all this, or teaching of this story - it could be something like: small deeds can have great and far-reaching implications, to "Treat others as you would like others to treat you".


Everyone can ask themselves

- how would they act in a similar circumstances?


Deeds matter.