My work at Fazer often takes me to situations where our company encounters people in various different places like a grocery shop, the local bakery or a coffee shop. My visit to the SOS Children’s Village of Narva in Eastern Estonia in 2014 was memorable. Fazer has supported the activities of this international organisation in Finland for more than 40 years.
I had previously visited Children’s Villages in Finland and Russia, so I knew roughly what to expect. On this journey, I learned about the preventive family work of the organisation, which supports the whole family to avoid having to take children into care. I went to a social service centre in Narva, where clubs and meeting opportunities were organised for both adults and children, and the doors were open to schoolchildren who wanted a peaceful place to do their homework. Families covered in the support programme are met at least twice a week, and the assistance needed is usually very concrete: parents are taught to do the laundry and shopping, and it is explained to them why they need to make food for their children, for example. With a social worker, I also got to meet a supported single-parent family with two children. The experience reinforced my perception that help was really needed.
The atmosphere in the houses of the Children's Village was different. The houses are new, specifically designed for the needs of large foster families. The youngest children were at home, and the older ones were at school. We discussed everyday topics like growing tomatoes and recipes with the mothers at the Children’s Village. Many of the children need special support, because they have been through rough times, but the homes were also filled with joy and hope. Eighteen-month-old Vova had just moved to the Children’s Village with his two brothers. With the boy in my arms, I thought how quickly we could make the world a better place if each of us helped one person.