It was a crisp and sunny winter day when I headed to the bus stop with my nose red from the frost and a pleasant excitement in my stomach. I had the honor of starting as a ”tuttaVa” (a friend) for a brave asylum seeker and I traveled to meet my future friend for the first time. Traveling by public transportation in an unfamiliar town is not always so easy, so the first time I went to get my friend from her place and we traveled to our destination together. Our purpose was to serve as volunteers at the Vuolteen Tyttöjen Talo (Vuolle House for Girls) together about five times, after which, I hope, my friend would be brave enough to volunteer independently.
Neither of us likes freezing weather and we were shivering together while waiting for the bus. The sun didn´t feel warm yet even though we optimistically tried to find the sunniest location at the bus stop. The winter in Finland is sometimes cold but so beautiful, we thought.
”TuttaVa-activity is supported volunteering, which is based on the idea that volunteering is a civil right.”
Everyone should have an opportunity to participate in meaningful volunteer work, have an influence on the things they care about and participate in the development of their community, regardless of their life situation, health status or, for example, language skills. As TuttaVa, I make volunteering possible for those, who for one reason or another don’t have the courage to do it alone. At the same time I meet a new, interesting person, I learn something about his or her culture, I gain new things in my life, and most of all we get to work together.
When we got into town, we started volunteering at the Oulun Tyttöjen Talo (Oulu House for Girls) by planning what we should do. Even though we didn’t have a common spoken language, by speaking simple English and Finnish I quickly discovered my friend´s interest and skill in cooking and baking. She was very excited when she showed photos and videos on her cell phone of the traditional meals of her home country that she cooks for her family weekly. Especially the children love their mother´s delicious meals.
We heard that the Tyttöjen talo (House of Girls) needs help with cooking and baking in numerous events and afternoon groups.
There it was – our common volunteer activity, we would cook and bake for the girls and women – how nice!
Text and photo: Minna Lassila, trainee, Network of Volunteering VARES, Vuolle Settlement ry
Translation: Kati Merikoski