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Pictures: Maria Kozlovskaya
There is disbelief. Indeed, some of the stories I heard at a series of Qutomo forums sound more like movie scripts. The forum, arranged by a Vantaa based non-governmental organisation the Nicehearts and aimed for girls and women, became an interesting platform for both integration service providers and people to meet face-to-face, discuss relevant issues, and network in order to find a culture and gender sensitive path for cooperation together. After all, behind every statistic number, there is a human life.
It could be a life of a refugee separated from the family. A life of a lonely old woman, living in complete isolation due to the lack of language fluency. A specialist with a degree, whose work experience and knowledge all of a sudden mean nothing in the eyes of the society, tends to believe he means nothing himself.
Who would assume that in the world of modern technologies, smart gadgets and fast decisions there could be people who cannot read? Who knows what does that feel like – not being able to fill in a youth center form for your child? What does it feel like – having no one to talk to?
[alert type=red ]The topics at the forums touched even bullying, the horror of a child having to face bullying at school just because of a different skin tone, a peculiar accent. [/alert]
A series of events highlighting aforementioned topics took place under the umbrella of the Nicehearts in a few cities of Helsinki region and were taken with great appreciation from local organisations. Multicultural Association of Porvoo, Luckan, and Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences supported the cause among others.
The topics at the forums touched even bullying, the horror of a child having to face bullying at school just because of a different skin tone, a peculiar accent. There are many stories but normally people do not want to discuss these problems. We prefer to close our eyes on things that do not fit in our pretty picture.
Every story is unique and there is beauty in it.
And then there is shame. Shame for having better opportunities, better living conditions, having children who are more successful in their studies or whatnot. Was it for shame or ignorance, or disbelief? Normally we tend to shut down the uncomfortable conversations.
To discuss those problems means, in the first place, to accept the possibility of these stories to be true. It means to accept that the world is not perfect and there are no equal solutions for everyone. Every story is unique and there is beauty in it.
The forums turned out to be the place for participants to speak up. Life is complicated. There are situations when nothing can be done. Yet, the simple fact of being heard, understood and taken into account might give a person a piece of mind.
Nicehearts of Vantaa’s (NGO) goal is to support the community’s self-reliance, equality and promotion and production of multicultural activities for girls and women. Their activities aim to create long-term networks and promote a place of encounter between girls and women of different cultures and ages on a daily basis. Their mission is to enable women’s active participation in the society, to promote gender equality and to strive towards the betterment of girls’ and women’s lives and living conditions in Finland.
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