Saturday, 5 September 2015

How to help

My friends have asked me to write this post, as to give ideas and useful tips on how to help with the refugee crisis.

I am by no means an expert, I have been actively involved since my childhood. My parents have been active in the matter since the early 70's. We have had refugees staying with us, sometimes illegally. I can write about it now as these people are now safe and it is many years ago.
My family has been a "host" family for refugees and immigrants for many years, now there are short-courses available, if you are interested. What you do is, you introduce a newcomer to the "system", the culture and to get started, become a friend, someone they can rely on for advice and help. And do ordinary things, go to the grocery store, the library, cook, dine, go for walks, pick berries, lend your sowing machine,  play football, invite along when you do things with your friends. And if you choose, you can also help with bureaucratic nonsense. A jungle not easy to get through!

It is vital to choose a way to help that suits you. I am socially gifted, so I have chosen to use that skill. I have hosted numerous finnish-language "clubs" for immigrants, to be able to communicate is vital. I have also hosted kniting groups for immigrants.  And since early childhood, regularly given of the things I can spare. And helped others find a way to help. As a child I felt happy when every year, me and my brother, were asked to choose from our toys, something to give to a child who has very little or nothing at all. To clean the toys and wrap them as gifts were also fun. I think that procedure has meant a lot for me, as I think one does not have to be rich to be able to help, you can share what you have.

If you choose to help financially, here are a few links in Finland that my finnish friends can use:
Katastrofirahaston lahjoitusnumerot, puhelinsoitto:
0600 12220 (20,28 € /puh. + pvm/mpm)
0600 12210 (10,01 e + pvm/mpm)
Katastrofirahaston lahjoitusnumero, tekstiviesti:
Lähetä tekstiviesti SPR numeroon 16499 (15 € / tekstiviesti)

Other similar help-organizations can be found globally.

If you want to help in other ways, use facebook. Be bold and ask. There are numerous fb-groups that are active near you. Don't feel let down if someone already has started a project you had in mind, remember, it is better to use energy and resources  together and no point in doing it all by yourself. So let down your pride, this is not a project to get involved in to boost your ego or to make others see what a helpful kind soul you are. Most people want to help out, so don't seek your halo here. I write this, as there are people who feel they never get thanked enough for their input and work. The thanks comes in other forms, believe me.

Try think about the people who come. There are teenagers, interested in similar things as teenagers are globally. We are more alike than different!

And, you can always become a voluntary worker, there is always something or someone who needs your help. The best way is to contact a local centre for refugees, and just ask "how can I help?". There is urgent need of help in sorting clothing and toys. But please do not contact the centres for information you can find elsewhere. All the workers at the centres are BUSY with their work trying to find and organize shelter.
This is a good link, though it needs to be updated (!), for information (in finnish):

It is good to remember, if you would like to organize an activity, nothing can be organized at a centre for refugees, as there simply isn't space for it. So any activity should be organized in other premises. Ask your local church, local sportsclub...

In Helsinki and many other cities in Finland you can get involved in for ex. teaching women to ride a bicykle. It makes life so much easier. Here is a link to how and where:

It is also good to intervene when bullshit or rumours are spread, trolls and racists like to spread negative rumours about refugees, and they spread them as facts. And it is also good to know what to say when people start wabbling on about how we first should take care of our own. Or how we should help people in their own countries. Send them or hand them the number to sms to the red cross, that should shut them up. And intervene when people make jokes about immigrants, when people make racist remarks. INTERVENE!!!!

But, the most important way to help is to be a good friend, say hello and make someone feel welcome.

Let's do this together. And remember, on the 12 of September, Europe says welcome: European day of action for refugees. More information on how to get involved check Facebook. If you want to get involved in Finland, please get in touch with me per e-mail.

1 comment:

Cheri said...

Erittäin valaiseva ja rohkaiseva kirjoitus. Olen ollut itsekin monesti pulassa vierailla mailla ja tiedän miten ihanaa on kohdata ystävällisyyttä ja kokea olevansa turvassa. Sen tunteen soisin kaikille pakolaisille, jotka ovat paenneet henkensä kaupalla järkyttävistä oloista.