The Open Society has published a serious of narratives on Somalis in Europe (below). Whereas other Somalis in Europe seem to have reached self-actualization, sadly the ones in Finland are still grappling with obtaining the basic necessities of life. Jamilah’s story resonated the most with me. I could see myself in her story, especially about the part where she started wearing hijab as a result of being discriminated against. When things get so miserable, she leaves Finland only to realizes that Finland is home. There is no going back. The other thing that caught my eye is the disparity in the level of integration. Somalis in Norway, the UK, Sweden and Denmark are doing better than the ones in Finland and Holland.
Meet the Somalis is a collection of 14 illustrated stories depicting the real life experiences of Somalis in seven cities in Europe: Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Leicester, London, Malmo, and Oslo. The stories allow readers a unique insight into what everyday life is like as a Somali in Europe. Meet the Somalis is based on the firsthand testimonies of Somalis in Europe interviewed during six months in 2013.
The Somali community in Europe is a vibrant, diverse minority group, including people of Somali origin born in Europe, Somali refugees and asylum seekers, and Somalis who have migrated from one country in Europe to another. There are no accurate figures for the number of Somalis in Europe, but on the whole they are among one of the largest minority groups.
The illustrated stories focus on challenges faced by Somalis in their respective cities in Europe and issues raised in the Somalis in European Cities research, including education, housing, the media, employment, political participation, and identity.
Meet the Somalis depicts experiences many of us will never know, like fleeing a warzone with your children or, worse, leaving your loved ones behind. But more often, these stories portray the values shared amongst many of us, like the importance of family, well-being, and identity in an ever-changing world.
Stay tuned: Meet the Somalis will be translated into other languages soon.