When moving to a new country there can be many obstacles, such as language barriers, dealing with bureaucracy and learning the cultural norms. Quite often foreigners in Finland may experience feelings of isolation. Offering a sense of community and support is the main focus of Naistari, a multicultural meeting place for women and children in Hervanta. Naistari was first established in 1996 and has had visitors from over 80 different countries.
Naistari’s purpose is to aid foreign women and children with their integration into Finnish society. They offer a broad range of services including club and group activities, help with student and work experience placements, crisis and trauma counselling and they also arrange language courses, during which time childcare is provided. An important aspect of their work is the special services they offer for the elderly. Naistari is able to provide a support person, whom often also acts as an interpreter, to help elderly people through difficult times such as hospital stays and also in dealing with Finnish administration and social services.
The main language spoken at Naistari is Finnish, as learning the language is an important part of fitting into the Finnish community. The idea is to provide a comfortable environment in which everyone is able to practice speaking Finnish in a relaxed manner.
– All forms of participation, togetherness and peer support are very important in contributing to the social wellbeing of immigrant women, Executive Manager Kirsti Viljanen explains.