Many Ghanaians living in Italy have over the past years moved and permanently settled in Finland or elsewhere in the Schengen countries. This is due to the recent economic challenges that have rocked the country and left many people unemployed. Many Ghanaians who are affected by the employment crisis are forced to relocate either alone or with their families.
Adwoa Yeboah is one of many Ghanaians who have relocated permanently from Italy to Finland. According to Yeboah, she was not able to find a job for even a day while she lived in Italy even though she was actively searching for one. At that time Finland was still offering free tuition to citizens of all countries. Yeboah says she took advantage of the free tuition and relocated to Finland with the intention to also look for a job.
While moving to Finland might seem like a good plan to some Ghanaians, it might not be an all-smooth journey. The challenge of getting a work permit and learning an entirely new language are some of the things that one cannot escape. Getting a residence permit is one of the most important things when moving to Finland especially when one does not have European citizenship. Yeboah was faced with similar challenges when she arrived. “Without the language skills Finnish people do not see you as part of the society”, Yeboah says. With five months of language studies behind her, she says the language is still difficult to understand. She has no regrets for relocating from Italy despite these challenges. She believes life will be easier for those planning to move to Finland if they first obtain citizenship from whatever European country they are currently located in. Sharing her experience, Yeboah says her permanent Schengen permit from Italy could not secure her a work permit and she had to wait for over 4 years before receiving one.
Tina Boateng also lived in Italy for almost 8 years. Moving to Finland was smooth for her because her father who has an Italian citizenship was living in Finland. According to her, the economic recession also made it difficult for university graduates to get employment after school. Additionally, Boateng says “there is also racism and the crime rate in Italy is high”. She is now studying Finnish language and receives social support, which according to her is not possible in Italy.
Living without a job in Italy might even be more difficult for a family than for a single person. Peter Young and his family lived in Italy for 7 years during which his wife was unable to get a job. However, in Finland both of them managed to get something to do. “We have decided to live permanently in Finland and to continue our lives here because things are going better here than it was in Italy,” Young says.
Without residence permit one cannot receive a social security number, which makes it impossible to have a bank account, get an apartment or to have an access to the basic social insurance. Young explains that they only got an apartment when he received his residence permit, one year after moving to Finland. Based on personal experience, he advises Ghanaians to find a little job wherever they are and that it is important that they keep on doing it especially if they do not have any family. However, he recommends Finland to families who are facing economic challenges and are planning to move out from their current country of residence. According to him, “life in Finland is good and the economy is also good.” He admits that even though Finland is an economically good country, things will be quite difficult if one does not have a work permit on arrival to the country. As an advice to other Ghanaians who plan to move, he says that the key is to connect with someone who is already living in Finland and willing to help in terms of finding a job, accommodation and issues concerning work permit.
Source: Bright Doku/ GH Diaspora