"In 1992 my family's life completely changed. After the regime change in Afghanistan, a new bloody war broke out and we escaped to Finland.
At the time, I was eight years old. Beginning our life in Finland was not easy. We didn’t know the language and my parents couldn’t find jobs. But my brother and I loved our school. My father had taken us to Finland, because he thought that it was safe and would offer his children the best possible education and future. Our parents supported us and I did well in school. After graduating from high school, I worked for different NGOs. My work with immigrant women was rewarded in 2010 and I was nominated as a Refugee Woman of the Year.
A year after that I decided to run for parliament. I was very close to being elected, but the time wasn't right yet. Four years later, my dream came true; after the elections in 2015, I became a member of the parliament. I was the first MP in Finland’s parliament with a refugee background. It was a big day for me, but also for my whole family. Twenty-three years after arriving in this cold and strange country, Finnish people had elected me to represent them in the parliament. That was more than any of us could have ever dreamt of.
In the spring of 2017, I got an opportunity to become a deputy mayor of Helsinki, in charge of the Culture and Leisure Division. It wasn’t an easy decision to leave the parliament, but now I’m happy that I took the new role. Helsinki is a fast-growing capital city — big cities change the world, and I feel that Helsinki is no exception.
As Finnish as I have become over the years, I still have an immigrant and refugee background. Therefore, I feel that I have a big responsibility to be an example to the thousands of young immigrants in Helsinki. When I speak to them and meet them, my message is: 'Believe in yourself, everything is possible.' If someone had told 15-year-old Nasima, that one day she would be a member of the parliament and a deputy mayor of Helsinki, she would not have believed it. Hard work and the support from family and friends have brought me here. I am thankful for everything Finland has offered me and I hope my work is the way to pay back."