Zonta Club of Vantaa II presents Centennial Anniversary Grant to benefit immigrant women in Finland

On 15 September, members of the Zonta Club of Vantaa II met with the Finnish Federation of Graduate Women, Vantaa Branch, to hand over the US$5,000 Centennial Anniversary Grant awarded by Zonta International.

The award-winning project is called Let’s Work Together, launched at the beginning of 2018. The goal was to employ immigrant women and teach them the Finnish language and Finnish practices. Marja-Liisa Toivanen acted as a “Primus Motor.”

The president of the association, Raija Sollamo, was delighted that the Zonta Club of Vantaa II chose them as a partner and emphasized how rare it is to distribute grants outside of your organization.

“The grant was really needed. We are currently operating in the Western part of the city, but are aiming to find partners and expand our project elsewhere in Vantaa.”

The idea for the project came about during the Let’s Read Together campaign, when it was noticed that immigrant women needed encouragement to use a new language and work outside the home. Many of them already have qualifications in their country of origin, but do not have access to employment due to lacking language skills. Fathers and children of immigrant families quickly learn Finnish at work and at school, but the situation is more difficult for women at home.

The purpose of the Let’s Work Together project is to provide help for the elderly, convalescent, carers and housewives, while also providing opportunities for immigrant women. The arrangement benefits both parties: the service buyer gets help and the immigrant woman gets to improve her Finnish language skills and to know the local culture, while the employer acts as a job instructor.

The project coordinator, Zana Kerveshi, migrated to Finland from Kosovo in 1992 while looking for a job. She now brings together immigrants who are in need of work and Finnish-speaking people who need help in their households.

“Both parties have been satisfied with the results. There have been nearly 40 immigrants, of which some have already been really employed, having gained work experience and improved their language skills. What we need now is more employers.”

Photo: The only Zonta International Centennial Anniversary Grant received in District 20 was handed over by Leena Hjort, vice president of the Zonta Club of Vantaa II (left), to Raija Sollamo (center), president, Graduate Women of Vantaa. Project coordinator Zana Kerveshi right.

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