Refugees from Syria and Togo named 2019’s Refugees of the Year

The boxer and the aspiring medical student both want to pass on their positive contributions to other immigrants.

File picture of 2019 Refugees of the Year (L) Nourdeen Toure & (R) Rand Mohamad Deeb / Credit: Pakolaisapu

The Finnish Refugee Council Pakolaisapu has announced the recipients of this year’s Refugee Of The Year awards.

Rand Mohamad Deeb from Syria and Nourdeen Toure from Togo are the recipients of the awards, which aim to show the positive impact that refugees can have on Finland.

From Syria to medical school applicant

Rand Mohamad Deeb came to Finland as a quota refugee and is studying for entrance exams to medical school. Among her accomplishments are creating a YouTube channel in Arabic, for new arrivals learning Finnish. Deeb’s rationale is that learning a new language is much easier in your mother tongue.

“When I arrived in Finland, many immigrants said Finnish was a terribly difficult language to learn. I heard that graduating from high school is not a realistic goal for an immigrant in Finland” she says.

Eighteen year-old Deeb wants to show other immigrants that learning and studying in Finland is possible.

Journey from Africa 

Nourdeen Toure arrived in Finland aged 20 after a two-year journey from his home in West Africa and says that at first “my only family in Finland was the police and the Finnish Immigration Service”.

The 28-year old made friends by joining a boxing club in Töölö, and fought his first professional bout in 2014.

Toure credits sport for helping him integrate into life in Finland. He says it has been easy to get to know Finns, especially young people for whom multiculturalism is quite normal.

He wants other immigrants to have the same opportunities as him to participate in exercise and hobbies.

The Refugee Woman Of The Year award has been given out since 1998. The Refugee Man of The Year award is being awarded now for the fourth time.

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