Asylum-seekers sign up for snow clearing in Finland

Some 60 asylum-seekers are helping clear snow in Kajaani, Finland. (Eeva Pentikäinen / Yle)
Some 60 asylum-seekers are helping clear snow in Kajaani, Finland. (Eeva Pentikäinen / Yle)
In the town of Kajaani in central Finland, asylum-seekers have signed up for snow clearing duty voluntarily.

After an initial spike of about 20 helpers, 40 more migrants signed on.

Many of them have never seen snow before.


A large group of some 60 asylum-seekers have signed on as snow clearing volunteers in the northern town of Kajaani. The idea keeps gathering more and more migrants interested in giving back. Red Cross volunteer worker Martti Hyvärinen says that the volunteer work will soon need better parameters after so many have expressed interest.

The asylum-seekers themselves got the idea and contacted Hyvärinen of their own accord. Now the group clears snow and ice from bus stops and housing centre surroundings. Hyvärinen trains them in snow work and the city of Kajaani provides the equipment.

“I’m from Iraq, and snow is completely new to me,” says Mustafa Midha Mohammed. “I heard that Finland can get up to a metre of snow some winters. It sounded wild, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.”

Giving back

The volunteers are mainly men aged between 20 and 40, but some women have also picked up shovels. The migrant workers receive only coffee in return.

Mahmoud Aleid says he worked for a big communications firm in Iraq, and hopes to find similar work in Finland. Aleid says he enjoys clearing snow.

“We are happy to be able to help, and it’s fun to work outdoors. Even though it’s cold.”

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Should Canada have a plan for climate refugees?, Radio Canada International

Finland: North Finland town opens asylum seeker hub, Yle News

Norway:  Refugees find Arctic gate to Schengen, Barents Observer

Russia: Looking back at the 2010 Norway – Russia deal on Arctic borders, Barents Observer


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