• OMA

From Broken Dreams To Promising Future

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

Zara Zartun was born on July 19, 1981 in a small town, Loikaw, Karenni which is a state of Myanmar (formerly Burma). Her father was a secret police officer in the dictatorship government. Forced to leave her country with her family, they survived the life from a paradise then went into hiding to a home in the jungle. The outbreak of civil war pushed many people to leave their homes. Her family escaped and applied for political asylum through UN Refugee assistance. They had no idea which country will be their destination. Not long when they finally received their documents to board a plane bound to Finland. Zara recalled that day her family landed at Helsinki airport without anything. "I clearly remember that I was only holding a pair of slippers with me. It was not important anymore what was lost, and what was left behind. What matters most is that we all have each other. It was a great relief to know that we are safe, that we don't need to be scared and run away to hide. We can rest now in a country where we can call- home."

Zara's early years in Finland wasn't easy. It was a culture shock for her to be introduced to a new way of living, culture, lifestyle, and most especially the difficult language. She recalls the time she was in her Finnish language course that it made her cry. "I used to cry every day and I think that I have no future in this country." Zara had no choice but to study the language but still, she strongly believes that it's just a waste of time. "In my class, there were different kinds of people from different educational backgrounds. Some of them are with high educational background. Some of them did not know how to write their names. Each of us didn't know exactly the purpose as to why we are in a heterogeneous grouping." Having been introduced to a new system of education is not always easy. She remembers the long hours she spent time at the library reading children's books in Finnish. That made her learn the language easier and faster. Added to this, she was determined to continue her study while working.

Meeting at any coffee shop to plan OMA activities

Escaping from a civil war in Burma didn't prepare Zara to get her scholastic records and certificates. Her family together with other UN Refugees immediately left their homeland without anything but only their security documents that would ensure their safety and survival in a nation that was strange to them. It took a lot of courage despite the many dangers they went through to arrive in Finland. For years of struggle and hard works, she was fortunate to obtain what she deserves. For 13 years of residence in this country, Zara has acquired Finnish citizenship in 2012. She has moved from one city to another until we crossed each other's path in Tampere. One of her dreams is to see her children grow in a society that is safe away from fear and harm. She wants to inspire and encourage women to get involved in the society by participating in any community services. She emphasized that the role of women in society is important and it has to be strengthened.

Zara introduces new Finnish words through games and group discussion.

Quoting her words, "Everything has a solution and we only find the solution by doing something good. Discussing a problem without action does not solve anything." Zara likes to help other people to make them feel that nobody is worthless. Being an immigrant coming from a third world country does not hinder one to be a potential person or successful. Every individual has his/her own ability to make a difference. She has a big heart to give and she believes in her heart that there's so much to give in creating a meaningful world if we only have open hearts and open doors. Listening to her stories and the struggles she been through that made her a strong person now is compelling. From what she was before and what she had become now is a life-changing experience that made her an advocate for human rights. She believes that everyone has the right to survive and be treated fairly.

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