Join Some Major Good-Doers
With Christmas approaching, you suddenly feel the urge to do something good. Luckily, there are lots of opportunities to help people in Oulu, even for non-Finnish speakers. You could become a volunteer in Red Cross or Salvation Army (Pelastusarmeija), and help collect donations at frequently visited spots, just as Finland’s ex-President Tarja Halonen did recently in Helsinki. Or you could volunteer in one of the Kontti stores (plus donate them your stuff!), or in addicts programs, or in food distribution kitchens – the options are almost limitless.
Be a Friend Indeed
A friend in need is a friend indeed. If that is what you believe in and what you would like to experience, join buddy programs in and around Oulu. For example, “Best Buddies”, where you can pair up with a disabled person and give each other some joyful company (www.kvtl.fi). If you are a guy and speak Finnish, you could also become a “Male Friend” for a child that is raised without frequent male interaction, for instance, by a single mother (www.mieskaverit.fi).
Clueless? Offer Your Workforce
If you have no idea where exactly you should go to do something good, you can visit the homepage of VARES (www.varesverkosto.fi) and let them assign you to something they think you would be good at. You can get trained in basic volunteering work there. Just send them an email, or visit them and discuss what they’ve got and how you could contribute. Alternatively, you could contact the church (e.g. www.oief.fi, or www.oulunseurakunnat.fi) and ask whether they need some help.
Follow Student Organizations
Erasmus Students Network has their “Social Erasmus Week” coming up at the end of November. ESN Oulu has planned a gathering related to donating blood. Grab your friends, and while you’re all wiretapped and milked for the juice that means life, you can have a nice chat with each other. AIESEC will help you to connect with the Finnish community, for example, through nursing homes for the elderly, where you can spend time with their inhabitants. This could be a great way to polish your Finnish during some nice chitchat.
Care for the Young Ones
If you got interested in the “Male Friend” project, but you are not male, you could become a “foster-parent” for a single parent raised kid through Emma & Elias Foundation (www.emmaelias.fi). They also have a number of other ongoing projects revolving around children and families (information is available in English). And because kids are our future, here is another organization related to childcare: Mannerheimin Lastensuojeluliito, a “Child Protection Organization”, freely translated. Students volunteer to babysit in emergencies, or as a peer supporter in schools. More info at www.mll.fi.