“I love the space and that it’s quiet here. I don’t like the hustle and bustle of a big city,” says Albert Kabasu.
Meet Congolese Albert Kabasu, Ess-Ma technician and upholsterer, who moved to the Jakobstad region in 2019. Albert gives tips on how to settle in and divulges what it’s like to live in a small village and learn another (his eighth!) language.
Why did you move to the region? I spent six years in a refugee camp in Zambia before my family and I were flown to Helsinki. From there, we made the journey to Esse, in 2019.
Was it easy to settle in? Everything was new and different. But Esse is a kind, tight-knit community. I had many people around me who helped me. That first day, I got a knock on the door from Janne, then a stranger, now a close friend. He told us we could go to him for anything.
What’s the best thing about your job? There’s a lot to like: my boss is easy-going, my colleagues are nice, the work I do is varied, and I have a short commute.
What’s the best thing about the region? I love that it’s quiet. Friends of mine, who also came here from Zambia, have moved to cities like Tampere and Helsinki, but not me. I’m happy here, my wife’s happy here too.
Where do you live? I live in Esse, a small village, with my wife, Grace, and our sons, Prosper (5) and Algra (2). People are friendly and kind. We have plenty of space for the boys to run around and play in.
What do you do after work? I play bass guitar in a Kofi band and we perform in different cities. I also watch my brothers’ football matches, cheering from the sidelines. The rest of the time, I like to simply relax and be with my family.
What’s on your regional bucket list? I want to learn how to swim and ski. I speak Swedish, but I want to improve my skills. I’m taking classes — and Prosper helps by correcting me! I speak seven other languages, which helps when learning a new one.
What advice do you have for people who’d like to move to the region? Be proactive, be focused, invest in relationships, work hard, and be patient. It takes time and determination to reach your goals, but it’s great to be part of this community.