Ali’s journey (May 20, 2018): Last full day in Mikkeli, Finland

by , under Enrique Tessieri

In the past months, we have followed twenty-one-year-old Ali’s difficult life in Finland as a young asylum seeker.* He’s been detained and sent to the Joutseno immigration center in October for 32 days and again in February for a shorter time. 
On both occasions, he was released but decided that he’d return to Iraq “voluntarily” after the supreme administrative court overturned his appeal.Ali is a converted Christian and is a member of the Pentecostal Church of Mikkeli, where he’s lived at an asylum reception center during most of his stay in Finland.

“I went to the church today, and they gave me their blessings,” he said. “I’ve said goodbye to some of my friends at the camp. It hasn’t been an easy day because the reception center has become my home with friends I know for a long time.”

Ali’s stay in Finland and Germany was about a year and a half.

“The journey to Finland from Iraq feels shorter than the one tomorrow back to Iraq because hope fueled it,” he said. “But the journey back to Iraq feels that it will be longer because there are a lot of question marks and mixed feelings.”

Ali admits that he has not slept well during the last weeks.

“A lot of good things happened to me in Finland but a lot of bad things as well,” he continued, adding that his detention in Joutseno was one of the low points of his stay in the country.

On the brighter side, Ali said that his mother is happy to see him after such a long time.

“She asked me what kind of food I’d like to eat and said she’d prepare dolma, [an Iraqi national food]. “Yes, that is exactly what she said that she’d cook for me when I arrive home.”

Ali’s last full day in Finland was a warm and sunny day.

“I spoke with my girlfriend,” he said. “It’s all very sad, but we hope to meet in Turkey and get married.”

* Migrant Tales will continue to write about Ali’s journey but back to Iraq and Turkey, where he hopes to meet his future wife.