Involving Asylum Seekers in Workcamps

KVT Finland has offered places in Finnish workcamps for asylum seekers living in Finland for several years now. For the duration of a workcamp, asylum seekers  participate as volunteers amongst others. KVT’s work with asylum seekers has most definitely been important and valuable for all KVT’s volunteers, no matter what their background.

KVT Finland has an ongoing initiative to place asylum seekers in each workcamp in Finland to encourage interaction between SCI volunteers and local asylum seekers. During the workcamps, the label “asylum seeker” can be put aside, and there are only volunteers among other volunteers. Placing asylum seekers on workcamps has been rewarding for all parties; the asylum seekers themselves, KVT, the camp leaders, the camp hosts, the local community, and the international volunteers attending the camps. When asylum seekers work for a common good on a workcamp, and the local people get to know them in person, any racism and prejudice is easily eradicated even in the smallest and stuffiest village.

Mohamed Yasin Abbas, or Muha as we know him, is an asylum seeker from Iraq. He attended his first workcamp in July 2016. This is how he describes his experience: “As part of the camp you experience a different life from the reception centers, and people don’t look at you like an asylum seeker, but like a person.” This year he was a campleader in Northern Finland in a camp called Mankila Community and Crafts, and is an active KVT volunteer.

KVT’s work with asylum seekers has been made possible by the fact that KVT has funding to pay for the asylum seekers’ tickets to the camp locations. For most camps, KVT attempts to reserve two places for asylum seekers, so there are about 20 places each summer. In total, KVT has had approximately 139 asylum seekers participating on 69 camps during the past 8 years.

KVT’s work with asylum seekers has been meaningful for all parties involved, and there has been discussion on how to further include active asylum seekers in KVT’s activities. One successful solution has been to encourage asylum seekers with camp experience to become camp leaders and trainers. Outside the summer season, asylum seekers have participated in organizing KVT’s volunteer weekend and a hang-out evening. The goal has been to involve asylum seekers as actors, rather than just organize activities for them.

Read more here.



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