A brief introduction to Chinese Alliance in Finland

Chinese Alliance in Finland (Suomen Kiinalaisten Allianssi SKA Ry) evolved from the Sino-Finn Charity Foundation (SFCF) which was founded on May 18, 2005. The founding of SFCF was the direct result of the growing aspirations of the Chinese community residing in Finland to develop a more unified approach to relevant issues. This was given further momentum by a series of events in which the human rights of numerous Chinese immigrant workers were severely infringed. Ten years ago, 12 Chinese masons arrived in Finland and started to work at Iittalan Kivijaloste Oy. It was soon discovered that those Chinese men were brutally exploited by their unscrupulous employer. In order to assist the Chinese masons in defending their legal rights, a special support group was formed within the Chinese community, which in turn played an indispensable role in the masons' subsequent lawsuit. The group collaborated very productively with the Finnish Construction Union in supporting the masons' indemnity demands. The ensuing extensive media coverage, largely initiated by the support group, sparked a degree of national awareness concerning the unequal treatment and unbelievable suffering experienced by certain foreign workers in Finland. This, in turn, compelled the Finnish government to make changes in the legislation which meant that foreigners no longer had to be bound to the employers who had brought them to Finland in the first place. It was the masons' scandal that provoked other Chinese people in Finland to ponder how those Chinese with difficulties could be helped more efficiently. Gradually, a consensus was reached that a responsible organization which would endeavor to defend the common interests of the Chinese community in general and to help those less fortunate in particular, should be established. As a result, SFCF was founded on May 18, 2005 (although it was never officially registered). The money left from the donation campaign for the Chinese masons was transferred into the account of SFCF. Since its founding, SFCF has provided financial support to those with economic difficulties, as well as legal aid to many needy Chinese in Finland. In addition, SFCF has supported several charity projects both in Finland and China. On December 1, 2005, SFCF donated 2000.00€ for the reprinting of the book “An investigation of AIDS in China”, written by Dr. Gao Yaojie-a prominent crusader against AIDS in China. Copies of the book were donated to several libraries in Finland. On October 17, 2007, a Support Group for the Chinese Cleaners was formed. The group has provided substantial legal aid and financial support to the Chinese cleaners. The group has also collaborated with the police authority in its crime investigation against the suspects. The group also managed to lobby the Finnish Service Union (PAM) to support the cleaners. Accepting the proposal of the support group, Yle TV1 made a special investigative program about the situation of the Chinese cleaners, which helped to bring awareness to the whole of Finnish society about the miserable experiences of these Chinese cleaners in Finland. In another collaboration with Yle TV1, SFCF helped to make an investigative program concerning the story of two Chinese welders. This helped them to find new jobs in a well established Finnish company. Then, with Yle Radio, SFCF helped to make an investigative program (MOT) revealing the miserable lives and conditions of Chinese workers working in Chinese restaurants. The program was shown on Yle TV1 on January 11, 2009. In addition to working with the Finnish authorities, the unions and the media in defending the legal rights of those Chinese treated unfairly, SFCF has also provided assistance to help Chinese in need with their living expenses as well as residence permit applications. In order to help the new Chinese immigrants to be better integrated into Finnish society, SFCF has organized several Finnish courses in collaboration with Helsinki Unemployment Association (HeTy). Our Finnish courses were financially supported by Visio Education Foundation, the Ministry of Education. Our special thanks go to Timo Aitta and Mikko Törnqvist, who have taught us Finnish voluntarily for several years. On February 21, 2009, the Sino-Finn Charity Foundation was renamed the Chinese Alliance in Finland (Suomen Kiinalaisten Allianssi SKA Ry) and a new administrative board was elected. Suomen Kiinalaisten Allianssi SKA Ry was officially registered on September 24, 2010 (registration number: 204083, business ID: 2357892-1), as a nongovernmental organization in Finland. The annual membership fee for those with a regular salary is 20€ and 10€ for others. So far SKA has 750 members altogether, including 14 Finnish members and 1 Vietnamese member. In addition to continuing the traditions of SFCF in providing the legal aid to needy Chinese, SKA has endeavored to help those Chinese dwelling in Finland to be better integrated into Finnish society, through the organization of Finnish courses, workshops, social gatherings and leisure activities. In the past few years, SKA has organized many Finnish courses for both beginners and advanced learners. Our Finnish courses, taught in Chinese, have helped many new Chinese immigrants in their desire to conquer the second most difficult language in the world. At the moment, SKA even has a full-time Finnish teacher who speaks Chinese well, and we are able to provide one basic course and one intermediate course on a daily basis. Lectures about entrepreneurship have proved to be beneficial to people who are considering starting their own business in Finland. Workshops about child-raising given by a child education expert were welcomed by young Chinese mothers in particular. Barbeques on beautiful Finnish beaches during the summer always attract both old and the young alike. The fishing trip last summer to Arctic waters was certainly an exciting experience for those Chinese youngsters who have never fished before. Above all, the Friday evening gathering, which takes place routinely, has always attracted enough gourmets who will never refuse any opportunity to appreciate a genuinely prepared Chinese dinner. In addition, the popular Friday evening gathering has also served as a forum, where different people meet and share common interests. In March 2013, a new executive board consisting of 11 members will be elected. We hope that more and more members will become interested in serving the others in SKA. We hope that the membership of SKA will continue to grow, because we believe that there is power in numbers. We are fond of community service! We are proud of SKA! By Jinghui Yang, 01.02.2013