“Usually it is said that Estonians and Finns are quite similar, as both nations share a language belonging to the Finno-Ugric language group. Having lived in Estonia for seven years, the difference that most stands out between Estonians and Finns is the way each nation perceives itself. Finns seem to be quite proud of their country and nationality, whereas Estonians quite insecure about the size of their country.
My family and I were invited to Estonia by the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK). I have three main areas of responsibility: supporting family work in the local churches, family counselling at the family centre I have founded and advocating for violent-free relationships. It seems speaking of domestic violence is shameful in Estonia, but it is important to talk about this as it helps to break the unhealthy patterns. Even though I have a Christian worldview, in counselling, professionalism is the guiding principle. Thanks to my Christian background it is definitely easier to understand, respect and dialogue with a person to whom religion is important, whether it is Islam, Buddhism, Christianity or something else.
Before coming to Estonia, my family and I were in Jordan, for four years. Since my husband is a physiotherapist, we visited many refugee camps, where he worked with disabled children, teaching them to walk. I worked with children, youth and refugee families, mainly focusing on the emotional and spiritual side. Visiting many families, I have been in castles, palaces, homes where walls are missing and Bedouin tents. In Jordan I founded a family centre, where various activities and camps were offered to the youth and children. I have also written a book about my experiences in the Middle East. Since Middle Eastern cultures are closer to the Europeans through the migration crisis, many have said only now they understand the experiences and cultural differences described in my book.
When I first moved to Estonia I was sad I could not use my Arabic language. Yet, now there are more Arabic speakers and I have had chances to either counsel them or translate for them. I enjoy it.
I do not worry about the future. For now, I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing what is needed. I am enjoying my life in Estonia.”