Sunday, May 28, 2006

Extraordinary CHAFF Meeting

Over the months those taking part in CHAFF has been growing steadily and the weekly turnout ranges from maybe 8 to 15, usually a different bunch each week. This week we had an extraordinary turnout, even with many of the regulars missing.

It it was a meeting which was full of hub hub as we welcomed many new and lively people.

Andreina, Pailin and Virpi  while Dr. Sebastian (India), Pentti and Matti (Finland) look in

Andreina (Venezuela), Pailin (Thailand) and Virpi (Finland)
while Dr. Sebastian (India), Pentti and Matti (Finland) look in

We welcomed Andreina Moreno from Venezuela who has just moved to Oulu to take up her new job. She is a chemist who has completed her Master's Degree in Catalyst Chemistry. A fascinating personality, I certainly look forward to her attending the meetings as she has so much to tell us about what is really happening in Venezuela, where the focus of much of the world is now directed as the Bush Administration tries top create another Iraq in South and Central America to gain control of the enormous oil resources of that region. With Andreina was Virpi was a great friend of CHAFF, the Oulu Pinkcats motorcyclist. Andreina and Virpi are now workmates. Hopefully the next time Virpi will bring her husband, Jari, who is another great character.

We were also able to welcome Dr. Mailadil Sebastian from Kerala to the meeting and he saw what a lively crowd we are. Also present were our regulars, Pentti and Matti from Finland.

Festo and family (Sudan) and Jormo (Finland)
Festo and family (Sudan) and Jormo (Finland)

We welcomed Malish Festo and his wife and daughter from Sudan. Malish is settled in Oulu and besides being an Arabic scholar has much to teach us about one of the trouble hotspots of the world.

We also welcomed Jorma Suomela, a Finn, who has travelled and lived in Thailand for some time. He works for an Advertising and Novelty marketing company and represents them in northern Finland. Matti Rautiola, who is a regular CHAFF participant, showed us some of his fascinating hobby products, decorative metal castings. I hope that the two of them will come to some sort of business agreement. Matti is also a leading computer animation expert in Oulu.

Students Anup (Nepal) and David (Kenya) with CHAFF Founder Kamu (Zambia)

Anup from Nepal, David from Kenya and Kamu from Zambia had much to talk about. Tingting had just returned from China, and despite the jetlag could not be without attending the CHAFF meeting.

I conveyed a message from Anais (from France) who wanted a huge group hug to all the CHAFF participants as she emailed she was missing all of us terribly. We also missed Michaela (Slovakia) as she has lost her mobile phone and Pentti did not find her at the usual place when he went to pick her up. There was no way to contact her!

Although Niina (Finland, organiser of Oulu Amnesty International groups) and husband Mark (England) were at the restaurant, as their baby was sleeping, they took turns to have a great food served up by Pailin while the other babysat by pushing the pram outside the restaurant. Being their first visit at the time of our CHAFF meeting, they were able to see how we function at CHAFF. We hope they will take the time to visit us more often.

Kannan was here from Rauma and leant all his charm and effervesence to the proceedings.

Isaac Sunderajan and his daughter, Anita, were suffering from jetlag and asked to be excused, so we greatly missed their presence.

Our meeting next week will be at 13:00 hours at the Thai Pailin Restaurant, Kenttätie 9, Kasarmi Area, Oulu 90100. See you there when we expect another full house! Hopefully we will have some great weather and can meet out-of-doors in the sit-out area.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Traditional Irish Dancing Weekend Course

The dancers amongst you may be interested in this email I had from Brent Cassidy.

Irish Dancing from the US

Irish Dancing from the US!


I wanted to inform you all and your contacts of our traditional Irish dance weekend course coming in October. It will be a lot of fun.....;)

There are only 60 places available and already, 25 people have signed up. I wanted to inform you before we start to advertise to the general public. Sign up for the course by sending me, Brent Cassidy, an email with the Subject Line: Dance Course.

You can also sign your friends up.

Please note, those who sign up will recieve an email from me once the list is full explaining the payment deadline and where to pay.

The Irish Music Society of Oulu

The Irish Festival of Oulu
October 5th-8th, 2006

Including the first ever…

Traditional Irish Dancing Weekend Course
by Damhsa Irish Dancing Group

Friday, October 6th -to- Sunday, October 8th at NUKU Youth and Culture Center for EVERYONE.

The course will be an Introduction basic level course with a total of 10 hours of instruction. The cost for the course is 45eur per person and 35eur for students. There are only 60 places available, so sign up is first come first serve. The course will be in the dance studios in NUKU Youth and Culture Center.

Courses will be taught in English and Suomeksi! The teachers are Matthew Fitzsimons and Piia-Maria Vidgren of Damhsa Dance Group.

Sign up now by sending an email with your name and contact information to Brent Cassidy. Your spot will be reserved and you will be given payment instructions later.

Join us in what will be a fun weekend of Irish dancing.

Damhsa (Irish for Dancing) is an Irish Dance group performing in Finland for private and public audiences. Matthew Fitzsimons, a Dublin native with a deep tradition of traditional dancing passed on by his parents and many years of training, started the group in January 2005 and have performed in various parts of Finland ever since. Matthew teaches traditional Irish Dancecourses in Helsinki, which keep him very busy.

"My parents encouraged all their 10 children to dance. My mother was an Irish dancer in her youth and both my mother and father were ballroom dancers when the time was in," states Matthew. The group consists of Finnish and Irish dancers.


For more information or if you have questions, contact Brent Cassidy at 050 380 1908.

(Please contact me for Brent's email address as I do not want to put it on the internet as it could create spam for him.)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

How to survive a Heart Attack when ALONE

(Cross-posted on the Jacob's Blog, the Cathedralite Seventh Heaven Blog and the Stephanian Kooler Talk Blog.)

I must thank Naval patel, a 49er from my old school, me being a 59er, having passed out in 1959, for this important post.


Let's say it's 6.15 pm and you're going home (alone of course), after an unusually hard day on the job. You are really tired, upset and frustrated.

Suddenly you start experiencing severe pain in your chest that starts to radiate out into your arm and up into your jaw.

You are about five miles from the hospital nearest your home. Unfortunately, you don't know if you will be able to make it that far.

You have been trained in CPR, but the guy that taught the course did not tell you how to perform it on yourself.


Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack, without help, the person whose heart is beating improperly and who begins to feel faint, has only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness.

However, these victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly and very vigorously. A deep breath should be taken before each cough, and the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest. A breath and a cough must be repeated about every two seconds without let-up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again.

Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements squeeze the heart and keep the blood circulating. The squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it regain normal rhythm.

In this way, heart attack victims can get to a hospital.

Tell as many other people as possible about this. It could save their lives!!

A cardiologist says If everyone who gets this information and then sends it to 10 people, you can bet that we will save at least one life.

Please pass on this information to all your contacts.

Dare to think the unthought known?

(Cross-posted on the Jacob's Blog, the Cathedralite Seventh Heaven Blog and the Stephanian Kooler Talk Blog.)

Prof Ajeet Mathur has been a friend for over the 10 years he has been in Finland. Ajeet is like a younger brother to Annikki and me, and we love him dearly. Like me, although considerably younger to me, he is a Cathedralite from Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai, and also a graduate from St. Stephen's College, Delhi. Like me, he married a Finn, and ended up in Finland. We are the Alumni in Finland for both those institutions, so we have 100% attendance at our reunions.

However, the similarity ends there.

Ajeet is a brilliant professor with immense industrial hands-on experience. He is a prolific writer and his philosophical mind can analyse any situation down to, not just the ground, but deep into the roots. His education skills are seen to be believed as he holds his students in rapt attention. We jointly authored a paper on e-Governance a couple of years ago where he took my mundane and boring facts and turned it into a paper that even had the Indian President, Abdul Kalam, look at "us" in awe!

Many years ago Annikki and friends started a small venture called Aivoairut Oy. Annikki was one of the Board Members. Because of the involvement of members of the Board in many other creative pursuits, the company has been doing just enough to stay alive during the intervening period.

Arne Nystedt, Managing Director of Aivoairut Oy,
Annikki and Ajeet in Kampitie

Arriving in last Friday's post was the first major publishing effort of this company, a book edited by Ajeet called "Dare to think the unthought unknown?"

Dare to think the unthought known?

International Perspectives on Group Relations
Edited by Ajeet N. Mathur
Price: EUR 38 + postage
Publisher: Airoairut Oy, PL 836, FIN-33101 TAMPERE, FINLAND,

This volume, a collective international endeavour, brings together twelve influential scholars and practitioners in group relations. New ways are presented of managing oneself in groups and for the design of management processes. Developments in group dynamics and social innovations are explored at the cutting edge of practices in a variety of settings: families, schools, local governance councils, factories, hospitals, trade unions, prisons, business enterprises, research institutions, religious organisations, higher education institutions, voluntary work and international organisations. Issues are raised for consideration and interpretation about the hidden life of organisations and institutional processes. Novel ideas include suggestions for educators and consultants on group relations training and experiential learning methods. Problems that arise in teams relevant for persons in expert roles or management, administrative or governance responsibilities in private and public systems are discussed. New approaches for working with groups address unique challenges and opportunities that individuals face in stressful roles during turbulent times. This is an important book for anyone trying to understand small and large group behaviour to engage effectively with the politics of relatedness.

Whether you be an individual living in isolation or a person in constant contact with a huge cross-section of people, this book is one for you. Once I picked it up I could not put it down. It is 250+ pages of sheer ecstasy, as Ajeet, along with 11 other brilliant minds take apart the words of the scholar Gouranga P. Chattopadhyay (M.Sc., D.Phil, (Calcutta University), FRAI (London), FASC & T (West Bengal), FAISA (Melbourne), Professor Emeritus of Academy of HRD & CEO, Chattopadhyay Associates: Organisation Consultants &Personal Counsellors.) who proposed a few years ago that spirituality may be used to overcome hate and to understand our lives better. The other contributors are Alaistair Bain, Allan Shafer, Anil K. Sen Gupta, Bruce Irvine, Colin Quine, Jane Chapman, John Bazalgette, Sally Eastoe, Sari Joustimäki, Susan Long and Shelley Ostroff.

Approaching group relations from a series of different angles with a series of conversations, never before published, this book is historic in that every sentence is deep in meaning. It is impossible to review this book without virtually quoting every printed line.

The authors differ from each other on various dimensions. Seven men, five women, six nationalities, from five continents, twelve professions. But two things are in common - all have been students of group relations and they have all known and worked with Gouranga Chattopdhyay.

In the first chapter written by Ajeet, he says

"Groups are created, sustained and accepted not because they are necessary evil residues of the group mentality. Without groups, complex transactions of society that require open systems, porous boundaries and the bridging of frictions of space, time, technology, task and sentinece to enable flows of goods, services, capital, people and ideas would not be possible."

Ajeet is explaining what life and after-life could be all about. Whether it be a pack of wolves or a flock of sheep, these principles hold good, although this book is limited to homo sapiens!

May I suggest you get hold of this book as it will not only change your life but it will open up an entirely new world to you that you never knew existed.

Ajeet will be chairing a group discusssion in Oulu next week geared for foreign business owners and investors to share their experiences. His skill in group discussions will become obvious to all attending. (Contact me if you want to take part in this event.)

Thank you, Ajeet, for giving birth to this book, which Annikki and I will treasure.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Chaff Meeting on 28th May

We go back to the usual schedule of our CHAFF meeting on Sunday 28th May at 13:00 hours at the Thai Pailin Restaurant in the Kasarmi area.

Kannan is driving in from Rauma and will be attending the meeting.

Please let me know who needs transport on Sunday as I have to activate the car drivers.

As Thursday is a holiday (Helatorstai / Ascension day), many people in Finnish companies will take Friday off work to get an extra long weekend.

It will be difficult to reach many of the participants after today.

So please inform me your requirements.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Please act - It is your future.....

Now that Annikki and I are retired, we now past the hump of fighting for the rights of the ethnic inorities in Oulu and Finland. It is now your turn to take action along with others, especially CHAFF Participants, as it is YOUR future in Finland that is at stake.

I post here the message I received from Ildikó who is doing a great job for all of us in her capacities in SINNI and Monika. She desperately needs the support of all of you so that she is not seen to be standing alone and crying in the wilderness.

Both Annikki and I know how it is to be in that situation.

Dear fellow immigrants and the like ;-)

This just to remind you: we will meet again on Tue, 30.5. at 15.00 at Isokatu 30, 3rd floor to discuss the future of immigrants in the region together with Ilpo Tapaninen from the Regional Council.

Please look through the attached suggestions and the Council´s focus points and send me your
ideas until Fri, May 26!

See you!


This was the attachment (in English) that she sent:

Suggestions for the Regional Council´s Policy Plan

* Integration of immigrants into Finnish work life:
o Extensive use of immigrants for acquiring foreign contacts:
approaching foreign markets to build a contacts network, research on foreign partners, combining tolerance (trusting immigrants´ expertise) and common sense (financial benefit)

* Kansainvälisyys vs. monikulttuurisuus:
Stark difference between internationalism and multiculturalism:
o International society: bringing high-profile labor force to Oulun
o Multicultural society: often refugees, whose know-how is not used, regarded as a problem-group that needs financial input
o Internationals “turn” into multicultural community members if they are unemployed, never the other way around.
o Suggestions:
+ Mapping the community of unemployed immigrants in Oulu – what is their know-how, how can Oulu labor market use their work force? Use results of labor market analyses and prognosis and compare results. Use immigrants to do this work
+ Use terms of kansainvälisyys and monikulttuurisuus in educational curriculums and in city/regional council releases (ads, posters etc.) to explain difference and problem.

* Immigrant vs. Expat:
o Explain difference between these terms in policies and releases, make them into public to help them develop into common understanding (Brent)

* “Becoming visible”:
o Use immigrants in nurseries, schools and other educational institutes to “tell stories”: make the contact with immigrants as “real” as possible. Use immigrant nurses, kindergarten teachers, teachers etc. Make immigrants a part of the curriculum. Not talking about them – talking with them.
o Immigrants´ Committee:
Advisory/evaluative board of immigrants within the structure of the city of Oulu and the Regional Council. Board (paid duties!) is in charge of internationalization strategy and immigration policy. Permanent cooperation with city authorities on internationalization and improvements of the foreign policy of Oulu instead of few separate projects which end soon and work only for some selected groups of foreigners.
o Best practices:
Let immigrants disseminate their stories to come up with a guide of what works and what not in integration in Oulu and the region. Don´t rely on what´s being done in Helsinki – that´s too far away and the situation is different. Arrange cultural events, release books etc. with the aim of dissemination the best practices.
o Immigrants´ own supporting organizations in Oulu:
o Monika – supporting immigrant women with problems of domestic violence
o SINNI – supporting empowerment of immigrant women
o Setlementti – cultural mentor/cultural mediator

* Language barrier:
o Abolishing Finnish language certificate for (permanent!) jobs in the service of the City of Oulu and in other regional authorities (all of public sector). Permanent jobs are practically non-existent anymore. Positive discrimination to the benefit of foreigners to get jobs with the city/in regional authorities
o No overly exaggeration of language skills in the private sector: more learning by doing! Circle: unemployment continues & language skills don't develop
o Language barrier is very often only excuse for lack of trust in immigrant´s abilities à positive discrimination of immigrants as introduced by city/regional council regulations would help this problem (Yhdenvertaisuuslaki says: “eriarvoinen kohtelu on sallittua silloin, kun sillä pyritään korjaamaan maahanmuuttajien perusteetonta ja merkittävää aliedustusta”)
o Using immigrants´ English skills, which are often better than Finns´
o Russian language is in high demand: there are many skilled Russians in Oulu and the region, but the prejudices are very prevalent à positive discrimination (affirmative action) for native speakers to get jobs where language knowledge is demanded!

* Education:
o Kotoutumiskoulutus:
+ precise inquiries on the educational background of each immigrant in order to be able to divide people into different leveled groups
+ more flexibility in moving between different courses, taking into account every persons own wishes, abilities and situations
+ use immigrants with a long-time background in Finland as examples of “integration success stories”
+ 3 years of immigration course makes a return to the labor market very difficult. Flexibility and the idea, that the best integration course is given in active work life

o Recognizing degrees and skills acquired abroad
o Quality vs. quantity: looking at the person and school, not at the amount of degrees/years studied and all the different possible obstacles that are still set by law

There is a lot of matter in the above - but unless you apply it to your own circumstances and see your problems in the context of the larger issues, you will not fully understand that the problems are endemic in Finland and needs strong concerted action BY YOU!


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Still a month to Midsummer?

(Cross-posted on Jacob's Blog.)

The sun shone brightly today. As I stepped out into the garden, Annikki's flowers on those old steps were truly magnificent.

As I drove through the city, a pony and buggy parked, with children buzzing around, certainly told me that there was a feeling of summer here.

Pony and Buggy

Anyone for a Buggy ride?

And as I went further, the Doggy offering sweets and a balloon to an old lady outside of the Fleamarket run by the Red Cross set the atmosphere for a great day.

Doggy with aweets and balloons
Doggy with sweets and balloons

I picked up Dr. Sebastian and Tingting from the University. Tingting cooked us a great Chinese meal at the Pailin Restaurant as she continues to teach Pailin how to make good Chinese grub. Tingting had to rush off as she was flying to China in the afternoon, but not before she picked my brains clean to sort out the next stage of her fast upwardly mobile career!

I took Dr. Sebastian around the City Centre which was alive with activities. It was the day of the Oulu Marathon which was run around the City starting and ending near the Market Place at the City Library. Thousands of watchers lined the route. The car parks were all full, and I was very lucky to get a parking place right in the city centre.

Oulu Marathon in progress.
Running past the Oulu City Library.

There was an event organised in the Youth House in Oulu called NUKU. It was called "Marketing of Possibilities" and several Non-Governmental Agencies (NGOs) had small stands to explain what there goals were to the public.

Amnesty International stand manned by friends.
Fumi is the tall Japanese lady on the left of the picture.

The Amnesty International table was well manned and of great interest to many. I met several friends around the table including Ville and Fumi. Dr. Sebastian was taken aback to know that he was well known as so many people who met him knew him as he had been featutred on this blog.

As we walked around we met several friends, but sadly, with each of the NGOs cramped together in such a small space, it was certainly not very possible for them to be demonstrative of their work and their achievements. I was happy to note that the Women's Empowerment group had a large and well organised and captivating show and I had the chance to meet Mervi Heikkinen, something which should have happened many many months ago!

Dr. Sebastian plastered against a World Comics poster
Dr. Sebastian plastered against a World Comics poster.

World Comics of India is having an exhibition at the NUKU, but with all the NGOs stands plastered against the walls, it was not possible to have a view of what was on display, although we did see some Hindi comics splattered around. I managed to paste Dr. Sebastian against a poster of the Indian Express newspaper!

There was so much going on. It seemed totally confused with all the hubbub. I hope that future events will have more order so that visitors, like me, can get more out of the event.

From there we went to the CHAFF meeting at Pailin Restaurant and met with Kerstin.

Soda was there and he had just learnt a very serious lesson to listen to what his parents tell him. His cycle had been robbed - because, despite their several warnings, he had not bothered to lock it. His mother was very distraught. I reassured her that Soda would have learnt a lesson through this incident. I told Soda that now he had no cycle, he would now have no option but to jog to his training sessions and around the town.

Soda is certainly going to miss his cycle, but then, as they say you live and, hopefully, you learn!

Dr. Sebastian and me enjoying the sunshine at the Pailin Restaurant
Dr. Sebastian and me enjoying the sunshine at the Pailin Restaurant

Soda managed to catch this picture of Dr. Sebastian and me relaxing in the great sunshine which crowned most of this day. Although, the minute the sun went behind the clouds, we were all rudely reminded that summer was not quite here, as all had to rush to don their coats to keep warm!

As I drove Dr. Sebastian back to the University, after Pailin had armed him with a special Thai Sweet Chilli Wrap for his dinner, coming out of the Oulu Cathedral were finely togged people. They had just finished taking part in the convocation for Doctorates. They were certainly dressed in a lot of finery!

End of the Convocation for Doctorates in Oulu
End of the Convocation for Doctorates in Oulu

And so ended another great pre-summer day!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Saturday Meeting at Haukipudas Postponed

Dear friends,

It is 4 am on Friday morning and I have not consulted with Sisko and Pentti as yet before releasing this, but my email Inbox was filled with requests to postpone this Saturday's Chaff meeting:

Isaac will be in London
Tingting will be in China
Ralf's wife's birthday is on Saturday
Matti is attending a wedding at Ylivieska
Ville will be in a course
Ilari and Ildikó have an City engagement
Anna-Liisa had committed too another engagement,
There is a big event "Marketing of Possibilities" in the Nuku in Oulu on Saturday (11:00 - 16:00 hours) where several Chaff participants are taking part,

etc. etc. etc.

and so on.

With so many of our dear friends and active supporters otherwise engaged, I felt that the event would not do justice to the hospitality being shown by Sisko and Pentti and the requests for postponement.

So I decided that those who were planning to go to Haukipudas will meet as a truncated CHAFF meeting on Saturday afternoon at The Pailin Restaurant at 14:30 and not at Haukipudas. We will plan the Haukipudas meeting for a more suitable time for all our many friends, as well as Sisko and Pentti.

Please note I have been also informed that Kannan will visit Oulu next weekend (27th - 29th May). He will drive in from Rauma.

I am extremely sorry for this last minute change of plans.

Have a great weekend.

Jacob Matthan
Oulu, Finland

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Next CHAFF meeting in Haukipudas?

It has been proposed by one of our very regular CHAFF participants, Pentti Paakki, that we hold the next CHAFF Meeting at his residence in Haukipudas, which is about 25 km from Oulu.

Sisko and Pentti Paakki
Torvelantie 10 A 1
Haukipudas 90830

Sisko & Pentti Paakki

Sisko & Pentti Paakki

The suggestion is that we should have it there on Saturday 20th May 2006.

As the Amnesty International programme (Programme on Saturday 20.5. Market of Possibilities at 11.00-16.00 at NUKU) is on all day that day, where several CHAFF participants will be very active, it has been suggested that we start for Haukipudas after 16:30 so that everybody can attend.

Because of the distance, we will have to organise transport too and from the meeting.

If you would like to attend, in what I know will be a very traditional show of wonderful Finnish hospitality, I would like confirmation and also whether you would require transport.

I will then let those who are coming know the pick up points and the times.

It promises to be a very interesting evening, so get back to me quick!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Next Regional Policy Plan Development Session

I received this message from Ildikó late last week:

Dear friends,

First of all, big thanks to Ata for organizing such an interesting and successful seminar yesterday. I think we all feel, that now we can really continue the dialogue. One possibility for this is introducing ideas and demands of us, immigrants, into the regional policy plan, a plan that gives the direction (and funding sources) for regional immigrant policy for the next four years. Therefore, I would like to ask and beg you all to join our next meeting on

Tue, May 30 2006, 15.00
at the SINNI-office,
Isokatu 30, 3rd floor

This meeting is already the fourth so far and now it is time to get more and more concrete about our ideas. Therefore, I am sending you the ideas and demands that I have so far received from you and summarized. Please look through them and comment them and send me your ideas via email until Friday, May 26. I will again implement them into the paper and we will continue their discussion on May 30.

I am also sending you the Regional Council´s focus points, that they plan to incorporate into the policy plan. Attention: this very paper is the one that we have to expand according to our wishes. So look at it with this knowledge. Unfortunately this paper is not available in

It is important that you all show up on May 30! Ilpo Tapaninen from the Regional Council will be around again to comment our ideas and listen to our demands. We have to finish this development process by the end of June and come up with suggestions and demands for the Council. So there is not much time left - don´t let it go by unused!

Please forward this message to as many immigrants as you know. See you on May 30!

Have a nice weekend!


I am not giving the contents of the two attachments that Ildikó sent me, so please contact me or her if you want to get hold of them.

Although we at CHAFF have no unified stand on the issues that will be discussed, may I personally ask all of you CHAFF participants to take an active position on this as YOUR FUTURE LIES IN YOUR HANDS!

Amnesty International Meeting

I was fortunate to be able to take part in the first meeting of the Amnesty International, Oulu, English Language Group, on Wednesday 10th May 2006 at Toppelius House on Torikatu. I found the proceedings very interesting.

Besides me, Cagri Akgul, Annika Nyström, Eija Isoviita, Sandrine Boumard, Ahmed Akbar Feroz, Riku Baas, Florence Naillat, Johanna Leppänen and Niina Kuokkanen, the Organiser of this group, were present.

Niina and Johanna ran the show.

Newcomer from India to oulu, Ahmed Akbar Feroz and longtime oulu resident Cagril Akgul
Newcomer from India to Oulu, Ahmed Akbar Feroz and
longtime Oulu resident, Florence Naillat.

Longtime Finnish Amnesty activist Riku Baas
Longtime Finnish Amnesty activist Riku Baas

Among the subjects discussed were:
1. Would it be possible to offer help to the Finnish Section to translate some of their material into English?

2. Programme on Wednesday (this week) 17.5. at 17.30, in Toppelius: Briefing about the yet not publicised EU-Campaign. This campaign is the primary focus of the Finnish section this year, so this is useful not only for Saturday's event, but also for many others. (The main topic is EU's politics on asylum seekers)

3. Programme on Saturday 20.5. Market of Possibilities at 11.00-16.00 at NUKU. Help is required for tasks such as:

a. Someone with a car to get stuff and Niina from Niina's place and get them and take stuff away in the afternoon.
b. Help is needed at NUKU to set up the table before the event starts (10.15 am).
c. Help is also needed at the event in general, e.g. to set up all the tables inside for the different organisations.
d. About 5 Amnesty International people are needed top be present there at one time, it would be best if most of them could speak both languages, Finnish and English.
e. 1 or 2 people walking around getting petitions signed.
f. Maximum 2 persons at a time behind the table
g. One person who will look around the other tables, help in providing breaks, so that people can eat, etc.

4. Programme on Monday 22.5. Main Oulu Library Cafe at 17.00 Oulu group members share ideas and plan for Book Fair -event during 9. - 11.6. Finnish language would probably be necessary.

5. Programme on 9. - 11.-6. BOOK FAIR in the Oulu City Main Library and Theatre area: fri and sat 10 am - 6 pm, sun 10 am - 4 pm. Finnish speaking volunteers welcome. The theme is "freedom of speech" and selling Amnesty International publications. Some human rights related books may be on display.

6. Programme of the next meeting of Amnesty English Language Group will be on Monday 12.6., at 6 pm. in Ainola Park, meet in front of the Cafe. If it's raining or below 15 degrees or "danger" of flooding or other force majeure, then same time same place at Toppelius. Cagri will talk about the Human Rights situation in Turkey, especially with reference to article 301 in Turkish law.

Why not join us on Wednesday at Toppelius House and meet an interesting set of people?

I would like to thank Niina for providing me with the background material so as to set up this blog entry. (Bad quality photographs are MINE, so do not blame Niina for that.)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Nobel Peace Prize...

(Cross-posted on Jacob's Blog.)

Two weeks ago I was greeted by this gentleman as a long lost friend because he was reading this blog.

Arpad Hamos

Arpad Hamos

I really enjoyed his company.

When I opened my email INBOX today morning, the first post I saw was with this

Nobel Peace Prize Certificate of Arpad Hamos
Nobel Peace Prize Certificate of Arpad Hamos

I am sure all of you will join me in sharing in the joy of our dear friend Ildikó, at this great honour bestowed on her father Arpad and his colleagues at the IAEA.

(Ildikó - Annikki and I hope that we do not have to wait 30 years till you get yours to keep that family tradition going!)

Yesterday afternoon Ilari, Antti, Ildikó and I went on a trip to Raahe, about 75 km from Oulu. Ilari and Antti are in the process of starting an Association of Finnish-Armenian interests. Antti had said that there was a great restaurant in Raahe which served Armenian food.

So off we went.

Ararat Restaurant in Raahe
Ararat Restaurant in Raahe

When I saw this sign it revived memories of when Annikki and I were flying to India and suddenly both of us noticed the huge formation of an ark on top of a mountain, visble from a height of 10000 metres. That was the ark on top of Mount Ararat. It was an experience neither of us will ever forget, not from any Biblical sense, but the sheer enormity of the sight below us.

The Ararat Restaurant is owned by a delightful Armenian couple, Samvel and Gohar Zakarian.

Samvel and Gohar Zakrian
Samvel and Gohar Zakrian

Ilari spoke a few magic words of the Armenian language that he knows. The floodgates of true friendship and hospitality opened from Gohar. We learnt the story of this family which runs this restaurant.

Gohar Zakrian
Gohar Zakrian

Samvel is a Highway Engineer but because of the wonderful work policies in Finland, he is now reduced to running this restaurant. His wife is a qualified nurse, but now she has to work as a waitress. Their eldest son, 22, is stuck in St. Petersburg as he cannot be reunited with his parents in Finland because of the stupid EU and Finnish rules on family reunification! A person above the age of 18 obviously does not need to be reunited with his family!

The saddness in the heart of this mother was so evident, even through her smiling face.

Their second son, aged 14, was with them in Raahe and was in school. I wondered what tremendous upheavals in his life he was facing in this hostile Finnish environment.

But despite all this saddness, they have truly worked hard to set up this small and beautiful business. Antti and Ildikó ordered the Armenian Shaslik which was based on the filet of chicken. Ilari ordered the Lula Kebab with fried potatoes, while I ordered a version of the Pitakebab which is called Shaverma based on grilled chicken with salad and the special pita bread.

The food was excellent. The service was great and anyone visiting this small town should make it a point to drop in and eat at this resataurant and share a few special moments with this special couple from Armenia. A joy worth keeping in one's memory bank.

Friday, May 12, 2006


(Cross-posted in Jacob's Blog.)

Annikki and I were invited to attend a seminar organised by EFA (Expatriate Family Adjustment). It was called "Dialogue Today, Action Tomorrow - Visions on internationalisation".

Annikki was unable to attend. But I did, primarily to cover this for my blogs.

Having been actively involved with work related to foreigners in Finland from 1984, having served as the elected representative of the English Speaking Community on the Ethnic Minorities Advisory Board (ETNO) from 1999 to 2003, having organised the ETHICS (Effective Tools for Harmonious Integration using Cultural and Sporting Activities) Conference, having been the representative of the Pohjois-Pohjanmaa (Northern Finland) Region in the Finnish Sports Federation special action group on Tolerance (chaired by Finnish Olympian Gold medallist Tapio Korjus) from 1999 to 2003, having been an Advisor to the National Equal Opportunities Organisation from 1996 to 2003, having been the Vice Chairman of the Oulu Section of the Same Law For All from 1998 to 2002, and having with Annikki been vocally and physically active in fighting Finnish Bureaucracy and its racist and anti foreigner stand from 1984, I still do have some interest in this subject.

However, I am sceptical of any initiatives as they are really superficial and exist only on paper to promote the "image" of a tolerant Finnish Society. As Annikki and I have repeatedly said - Finland is like a polished apple - all shiny outside, but rotten to the core inside.

eputy Mayor of Oulu addresses the audience

Deputy Mayor of Oulu addresses the audience

The Deputy Mayor of Oulu Päivi Laajala said all the nice things that have to be said in her presentation "New Challenges for a fast growing city". That is the official stand that Oulu intends to be an International and Culal City and it is working to a plan. But it was purely superficial!

The organiser, Aaltaja Bos, from The Netherlands, with a Oulu City Official. Sandra Grotsch is on the far right
The organiser, Ata Bos, from The Netherlands,
with a Oulu City Official. Sandra Grotsch from Germany, who acts
as a part time journalist for a web newspaper,
65degrees North, started by Ata Bos,
is on the far right

Ata Bos, who has been running this EFA project gave a well thought out presentation of what she has achieved during the two years she has been running this project. She did not address the very fundamental issue that her contract was for 2 years as she is a foreigner and the City of Oulu cannot employ a foreigner for more than a period of 2 years unless.....

Strategy Manager of the Oulu City, Juha Ojala
Strategy Manager of the Oulu City, Juha Ojala

There was a presentation by a consultant,, Juha Ojala, Corporate Strategy Manager of the City of Oulu, on the subject of Oulu's Strategy 2015 - a lot of waffle and above all skirting the main issue - Oulu City employs 10,000 people and less than 20 (0.2%) are from the migrant communities. The "migrant community forms more than 2.5% of the local population. If the City cannot set an example in its employment policy, I wondered who is preaching to whom?

Lena Viskari, one of the entertaining aand outspoken panel members from Poland
Lena Viskari, one of the entertaining and outspoken
panel memberS from Poland

Two more of the panel members, a Researcher at Oulu University from Italy and a Engineer working in a Finnish company, The Netherlands
Two more of the panel members,
a Researcher at Oulu University from Italy and
an Engineer working in a Finnish company, The Netherlands

There was a panel composed of a persons from Italy, Estonia, US, Poland and The Netherlands - and they did express some of the problems faced by them during their stays in Finland lasting from 9 years down.

I had been intending to sit quietly through the proceedings but certain matters in the Deputy Mayor's speech and the Strategy Manager's presentation really riled me.

I asked the audience to look at the Panel and the Panel to look at the audience and asked them whether they thought it in any way odd. No-one could see anything strange.

I pointed out that over 70% of the unemployed minorities in Oulu are from the African countries and there was not a single person present to share their views on this subject. Other than an Indian whom I met the day before at an Amnesty International meeting and whom I had dragged to this meeting, there was hardly anyone from Asia (India and China) and there apppeared to be no one from the Russian Community, the largest single group of migrants to Finland.

I then threw my second punch - I pointed to the title of the conference and then drew attention to another well known English idiom, "Tomorrow never comes". I said I had been waiting for 22 years for that "Tomorrow"!

I think I shattered the slight "feel good" factor by throwing in the Racism card into the proceedings.

The discussions after this were lively and many importnat questions were raised from the floor mainly related to the incomprehensible employment norms being followed by almost all Finnish employers.

I was permitted the final comment. I drew attention to subject of lack freedom of speech in Finland but above all the lack of any participation by the media in this event. Ata pointed out she had sent out 20 invitations to the media - and not one had responded!

Well at least, I did!

The guest speaker, Ruth von Renken, with Anne Rännäli of the Oulu City

The highlight of the afternoon was a presentation by the author of "Third Culture Kids" Ruth von Reken. As all my children are third and fourth culture kids, I found the presentation most interesting and bought her book, co-authored by David Pollack, for Annikki, as she has a special interest in this subject being a Montessori advocate. Ruth has a fascinating background having been brought up in Nigeria during the first 12 years of her life. Her roots have many branches and that was made her talk so interesting.

Ruth, being a little younger than me, was pointing the next generation in the audience as the ones who would shape the future for the Third Culture Kids. After the conference, I did go to her and point out the Maria Montessori philosophy that "the child is the father of man" would mean even the generation who she was pointing to did not have the wherewithal to solve the problems. I do hope Ruth will follow that idea further.

I have asked Annikki to give me a comment on Ruth's book, so I hope in a few weeks to have something on it on the blog.

This conference was a genuine attempt by Ata to focus on serious issue. It is a good starting place. Unfortunatesly, as Annikki and I see it, we have been on these starting blocks for the last 22 years and we hope that at least they get to put the bolts down in the coming 10 years so that we may get the race to commence sometime!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Meeting today: Amnesty International in Oulu

As informed earlier, the Oulu Group of Amnesty International which works in the English Language will have its inaugural Public Meeting TODAY.

Hello everyone!

You are invited to the first meeting of the Amnesty Oulu English Language Group on May the 10th, at 6 pm. We are meeting at the Café of the International Activity Centre Toppelius, Torikatu 16. If you have any questions, feel free to mail or call me!


- What is Amnesty International and what does the Amnesty Oulu Group do?
- Questions and answers

On the Agenda:

- Event: 'Market of Possibilities' on Saturday May 20, 2006 at NUKU
- Other summer time events we could take part in
- The meetings to come
- A.O.B.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Yours sincerely,

Niina Kuokkanen

See you there.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Chaff thanks Pailin

Several Chaff members got together and decided to give our Chaff Meeting hostess, Pailin, a birthday gift. Kannan (from Rauma) and Annikki also contributed towards the present.

Canon Camera - Gift for Pailin

We were able to buy this nice (Best Buy) Canon Camera for her so that she can rest her antique one with which she has been recording our meetings.We also got her a 128K Memory card to go in the cameras as the camera only had a 16K memory card. The languages in the camera also include the Thai language!

When I gave it to her this morning she was so overwhelmed and broke down and cried with joy.

I told her that while all of us our having fun at the meeting we always are grateful how she and Unnop are toiling away making everything just right for us. This was one way to show our gratitude for all that she has done for us.

No doubt we will see lots of results from that camera in the years ahead as it records the progress not only of their lives but also of CHAFF.

Happy Birthday Pailin from all CHAFF patrticipants, far and near.

Pentti Paakki has suggested that we have a Chaff meeting at his home in Haukipudas. That is a very kind gesture. We will decide a date with pentti and also we will organise the transport, possibly on a saturday evening, for this event. That way it will be possible for Pentti's wonderful better half to also take part in one of our meetings.

Son of Sisko & Pentti Paakki

Son, Jukka, of Sisko & Pentti Paakki

Pentti's youngest son, Jukka, is travelling around Ausralia with a friend. He is recording the progress of his travels on a website and you can keep tuned (in Finnish) with his progress.

In the meantime, next week's meetinng will be as usual at the Pailin Restaurant, Kenttatie 9, Kasarmin Area at 13:00 hours.

Monday, May 08, 2006

I travel to Seinäjoki

(Cross-posted on Jacob's Blog.)

Yesterday was a beautiful day. The sun shone right from 5 am and it was sweltering hot. And we are over a month and half before midsummer's day (21st June). Annikki decidd it was just right to put the goldfish back into the fish pomd. She put them a plastic bag and floated that in the main pond so that the water temeratures could equalise.

Goldfish ready to be let free in the fish pond

Goldfish ready to be let free in the fish pond

Goldfish swim freely in their pond
Goldfish swim freely in their pond

We had this week's Chaff meeting outdoors. Kannan, our Chaff visitor from Rauma, hosted the group.

Chaff Host of the Week: Kannan
Pentti with the CHAFF Host of the Week: Kannan Balaram

Kaija Valimaa brought a visitor from France, Vincent, the person who was the French mentor of our popular Chaff participant Anais.

Pailin serves cake to Kaija and Vincent
Pailin, Kaija and Vincent

The Thai buffet was simply excellent as our Pailin hosts outshone themselves themselves.

As it is Pailin's birthday today, we all sang Happy Birthday for her. She produced a couple of cakes for us to celebrate her birthday. She truly is a wonderful person with so much love in her heart for all of our Chaff members.

Truly a great Chaff meeting.

But we had to call the meeting to a close rather early as Kannan had to get back to Rauma (555 km from Oulu). He was driving his new acquisition, the SAAB, there.

I agreed to drive with him till Seinäjoki, about 340 km from Oulu. From there he had only to drive a little less than 300 km, while I could take the train back to Oulu.

We took food for Annikki and Mika from Pailin, took Thai Sweet Chili Wrap for me and Kannan. As Ilari was on his way back from Helsinki by train, he and I agreed to meet on the Seinäjoki train. So we took a wrap for him. I loaded the car wih my usual drive boosters, some fizzy energy drink, lots of packets of crisps, some chocolates, some biscuts, some nuts and some bananas.

I drove up to Raahe (80 km from Oulu) to ensure we were ahead of the clock in case Kannan's driving was slower than expected. I handed him the wheel just after Raahe. After 15 minutes I was wondering why I had come as he handled his car superbly. He was pushing the limit as he drove the car at over 130 km per hour. But he was being careful, making sure that he was coming back down to the speed limit whenever he saw a speed checker, the video camera. Video cameras are liberally sprinkled all over Finland, but the law dictates that there must be a warning for drivers stating that a particular zone has been fitted with these devices.

Ilari sent me a text message saying that there was no water on the train and would I pick up some bottled water for him.

We reached Seinäjoki with more than an hour to spare. Just as I bought my ticket, there was a message from Ilari saying the train was running 50 minutes late. (It appears that the axle on one carriage was overheating so they replaced the carriage at Tampere, the major stop before Seinäjoki.)

After buying some Pepsi, I helped Kannan fill his petrol tank, found the way out of Seinäjoki and bid him on his way to Rauma. I sat and waited for the train, which arrived as 20:20 instead of 19:30.

As Ilari had given me his carrige and seat number, I had reserved my seat next to his.

Ilari was glad to get the water. We chatted all the way, pausing only to consume the delicious Thai Sweet Chili Wrap.

Ildi had said she was going to wait for Ilari, so he offered to give me a lift home. Unnop and Pailin had offered to pick me up and drop me home, but as the train was so late, I told them not to bother. But when we reached Oulu at a few minutes before midnight, we had a great reception committee, as if Ilari and I were returning from a trip from outer space. Besides Ildi, Pailin and Unnop were there to receive us!

The latter couple dropped me home. It was just after midnight, so I was able to correctly wish Pailin for her birthday.

I cleared my email and hit the sack falling asleep in just 2 minutes as usual. I just took time to share all the news with Annikki who was sitting with her mother. She was happy as the fish, all four of them had settled down properly in the outside pond.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Yet another face of my woman...

(Cross-posted on Jacob's Blog.)
Today would have been the 134th birthday of the late Mr. K. C. Mammen Mappillai (KCMM), the doyen of Kerala, my maternal grandfather.

Yesterday was "Freedom of Speech" day worldwide, a day which would have thrilled the heart of KCMM.

The leading local newspaper of Oulu, the Kaleva, had asked their readers to submit their opinions on this subject on this day.

Annikki is a powerful writer on issues she believes in.

She wrote a short and great piece, in Finnish, on the subject. I reproduce it here (in Finnish) for our Finnish audience, as I do not have a good English translation available at this moment.

Sananvapaus Suomessa

Annikki Matthan

KALEVA version / KALEVA Version

Suomessa sananvapaus on vapaata. Se on rajattoman sallittua. Sananvapautta on monenlaista ja kaikilla. Joillakin on enemmän ja joillakin vähemmän. Keskiarvona laskettuna sitä on jokaiselle jakaa oma osansa. Se jaetaan tarkoin tasapuolisesti. Silloin sananvapaus on hiljaista. Se ei näy eikä kuulu vaan on näkymätöntä.

Suursanatilallisilla on sanat hallussaan. Heillä on sananvapaus vallassaan. He kylvävät sanoja vapaasti sinne minne haluavat. Heidän palstoillaan ne kasvavat suuriksi. Ne peittävät maan ja taivaankin. He myyvät palstoja ja sanoja tiloillaan. He kasvattavat ja tuottavat sananvapautta hinnasta. Sanat ovat lukossa sanakirstuissa. Siellä ne ovat tallessa ja turvassa. Suursanatilojen rengeillä on niihin avaimet ja lupa avata kirstun kansi. Sanakirstun kanteen on kirjoitettu; salainen.

Suomessa sananvapaus on salaista. Kun renki avaa kirstun kannen, sieltä tulee ulos sananvapaus metamorfoosa. Sen loistava säteily häikäisee ja sokaisee. Se näyttää hyvältä ja kauniilta katsella. Siinä on sateenkaaren kaikki värit. Se leijailee kohti korkeuksia vapaana. Sana on vapaa. Ihmiset tavoittelevat sitä haltuunsa. He ihailevat sen muotoa, värejä, keveyttä, ilmavuutta ja läpinäkyvyyttä.

Kaikki, jotka näkevät sen, uskovat siihen. Se on kuitenkin hauras, eikä kestä kosketusta. Se on kosketusarka. Ne, jotka eivät sokaistu sen häikäisystä näkevät sen läpi, että se ei kestä käyttöä eikä kulutusta. Hämmästyneinä he tajuavat silloin. Mikä näyttää sananvapaudelta, onkin vain hajoava suuri imagokupla. Se särkyy käsiin tai hajoaa taivaan tuuliin. Yhä uudestaan se kuitenkin hämää ja ilmaantuu.

Nyt he eivät enää vain usko siihen, vaan tietävät; sehän onkin täysin uskon asia. Suomessa sananvapaus on olemassa vain teoreettisena ajatusmallina uskon tasolla. Uskokoon ken tahtoo!

Sananvapaus Suomessa

Annikki Matthan

Jakobin Blogin Versio / Jacob's Blog's Version

Suomessa sananvapaus on vapaata. Se on rajattoman sallittua. Sananvapautta on monenlaista ja kaikilla. Joillakin on enemmän ja joillakin vähemmän. Keskiarvona laskettuna sitä on jokaiselle jakaa oma osansa. Se jaetaan tarkoin tasapuolisesti. Silloin sananvapaus on hiljaista. Se ei näy eikä kuulu vaan on näkymätöntä.

Suursanatilallisilla on sanat hallussaan. Heillä on sananvapaus vallassaan. He kylvävät sanoja vapaasti sinne minne haluavat. Heidän palstoillaan ne kasvavat suuriksi. Ne peittävät maan ja taivaankin. He myyvät palstoja ja sanoja tiloillaan. He kasvattavat ja tuottavat sananvapautta hinnasta. Sanat ovat lukossa sanakirstuissa. Siellä ne ovat tallessa ja turvassa. Suursanatilojen rengeillä on niihin avaimet ja lupa avata kirstun kansi. Sanakirstun kanteen on kirjoitettu; salainen.

Suomessa sananvapaus on salaista. Kun renki avaa kirstun kannen, sieltä tulee ulos sananvapaus metamorfoosa. Sen loistava säteily häikäisee ja sokaisee. Se näyttää hyvältä ja kauniilta katsella. Siinä on sateenkaaren kaikki värit. Se leijailee kohti korkeuksia vapaana. Sana on vapaa. Ihmiset tavoittelevat sitä haltuunsa. He ihailevat sen muotoa, värejä, keveyttä, ilmavuutta ja läpinäkyvyyttä.

Kaikki, jotka näkevät sen, uskovat siihen. Se on kuitenkin hauras, eikä kestä kosketusta. Se on kosketusarka. Ne, jotka eivät sokaistu sen häikäisystä näkevät sen läpi, että se ei kestä käyttöä eikä kulutusta. Hämmästyneinä he tajuavat silloin. Mikä näyttää sananvapaudelta, onkin vain hajoava suuri imagokupla. Se särkyy käsiin tai hajoaa taivaan tuuliin. Yhä uudestaan se kuitenkin hämää ja ilmaantuu.

Nyt he eivät enää vain usko siihen, vaan tietävät; sehän onkin täysin uskon asia. Suomessa sananvapaus on olemassa vain teoreettisena ajatusmallina uskon tasolla. Uskokoon ken tahtoo!

What Annikki says here in a humourous and truly interesting fashion is that, rather than pointing the finger all over the world at where there is no freedom of speech, it is necessary to draw attention to the lack of freedom of speech for the common man and woman in Finland. (I will try to get her to do a translation when she has some time.)

The article was posted to the newspaper well before the due date and exactly complied to the norms specified by them.

Having read it, I assured Annikki that there was little hope of the newspaper even thinking about publishing it.

Like the recent hilarious sarcastic Stephen Colbert speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner (if anyone wants to see the video of this, please contact me), Annikki has drawn attention to the Oligarchic System that presently is in place in Finland!

Come yesterday, I got up at my usual time of 4 am and thumbed through the Kaleva newspaper. Although there was much about freedom of speech, there was no attention drawn to the lack of freedom of speech in Finland, and no article by Annikki in the columns. There was not a single reference to the lack of freedom of speech in Finland.

As soon as Annikki awoke, I drew her attention to the fact that her article had not been accepted. She thumbed through the paper, read all that was published, which was all about finger-pointing at everyone else in the world, with no mention to the lack of the freedom of speech in Finland itself.

Full page advertisement inserted by the Finnish Newspapers Union, in all major newspapers in Finland, including the Helsingin Sanomat and Kaleva, on Freedom of Speech Day
Full page advertisement inserted by the Finnish Newspapers Union,
in all major newspapers in Finland, including the Helsingin Sanomat and Kaleva,
on Freedom of Speech Day

Then, she noted that on one full page, there was this huge advertisement put out by the Finnish Newspapers Union of a "typical page in a controlled newspaper", with all the words supposedly struck out in the sort of "barbed wire" fashion.

It implied how people around the world were caged in by the oppressive governments which denied them freedom of speech.

I explained my understanding of this advertisement to Annikki and said that this advertisement was being carried in almost every Finnish newspaper.

That really riled her.

She has produced this beautifully written piece (in English) in response to that full page advertisement, which represents HER understanding of that same page!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Freedom of Speech in Finland?


Annikki Matthan

An entire page of Kaleva, and almost every major newspaper in Finland, was devoted to a picture of the words in the columns of a newspaper blacked out by barbed wire. Even the darkened pictures were fashioned in a manner to depict how freedom of speech was being denied to masses around the world.

It was meant for the Finnish newspaper readers to understand what they had something which was not being enjoyed by millions of people around this planet.

This was the special contribution of the Newspaper Publishers Union on 3rd May 2006, Freedom of Speech Day.

The message was very clear.

The Members of the Finnish Newspapers Union control Freedom of Speech in Finland.

It must have cost the Union several millions of Euros to hammer this subliminal message across to all the Finns.

Whatever was meant to be the message for those who are behind the barbed wire fence was not clear. Obviously, it was meant that the Finns were those outside the borders of this fence, looking in on those behind it!

One thing the Union did not state was that the Finns could be added to the masses of people who are denied this freedom of speech.

Instead of allowing the people to have the extra space to express their opinions, the professional Union took the entire space for itself. Their message could be understood to be exactly what the official Finnsh line has always been:

"Look around everywhere else and consider yourselves especially fortunate, as you had better believe, understand and know what you have. You lack nothing. You are kept in a special protection zone of barbed wire which separates you from those oppressed rest"

It is worth remembering that a barbed wire fence looks the same from both inside and outside.

The power brokers are the watchdogs and the "professional guardians" of the freedom of speech in Finland.

They protect the Finnish establishment, the interests of the State, the Authorities, the Church, the Police and the entire Legal System structure, which are not free from outside controls.

I consider the projection and exhibition of the barbed wire lines to be a strong warning and a threat to the freedom of expression by individuals in Finland.

If I had the money and the power to decide to defend the freedom of the speech on the day of its commemoration, it would have been done in a different way. I would have bought that space to give the same space for the people to say something which was troubling their minds.

I would not have surrounded them with the barbed wire fence.

The full page advertisement seemed to be a dramatic attempt to say:

"Stop here and look. Go no further. This is a protected area!"

The page needs no words to explain the meaning. It was the signal and symbol of DANGER!

In an attempt to change the subject and focus, the message being conveyed was for Finns not to ask for more than what they have. They were already at the edge. What they had was enough for them - and they should not make any attempt to shake the POWER STRUCTURE.

It does not seem right to commemorate the Freedom of Speech Day by frightening the readers of all the major newspapers in Finland with symbols and pictures.

I hope you understand what I mean when I say that I am married to the most multi-talented and multi-faceted woman in this Universe!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Tinged with sadness

CHAFF has been responsible for many friendships across all ethnic and other physical and emotional barriers.

About five months ago, a news item in a small local newspaper brought two outstanding human beings into the lives of us at CHAFF. They are people who are devoting their lives to the love and care of the youth.

Some of you will remember the picture I picked up from the newspaper:

Subramaniam and Anais

Picture of French girl, Anais, with
Tamilian from Villipuram, Subramaniam

We were greatly saddened when the first of them, Subramaniam, returned to India at the end of January of this year. Yesterday, we were all greatly saddened as the second of the duo came to the CHAFF meeting to say her goodbye.

With her was Kaija Välimää. who has been responsible for these amazing youngsters to have come to Oulu in the first place. We have learnt much from these two youngsters who have brought much joy to us older folk in CHAFF.

Not only did they treat us with respect, but we, in turn, learnt to truly respect young people with such enormously important moral values.

As has been said by the late Maria Montessori, a great educationalist "The child is the father of man." In the hands of such wonderful youngsters, not vile and evil men as Bush and Blair, lies the future of our grandchildren.

Kaija, Anais and Pentti
Kaija, Anais and Pentti

Anais says goodbye to David
Anais says goodbye to David
with Ruben and Kevin practicing Takraw
in the background.

Yesterday was the first outdoor CHAFF meeting.

We welcomed three students - Anup from Nepal, Kevin from China and Ruben from Kenya. We were also witness to an amazing performance from Soda who displayed his Takraw (Kick Volleyball) skills.

Soda foot controlling the Takraw ratan ball

Soda head controlling the Takraw ratan ball

David turned to me and said he now understood why I had such a great opinion of this youngster who played with the Takraw ball as if he was using the ball as if it was at the end of a yo-yo.

When I had seen Soda on the football field, I had known nothing of his Takraw skills. I saw a young boy who could amazingly toy with a football. The ball did exactly what he wanted it to do.

That is the first essential of a natural football player. After this comes physical fitness, team skills, speed with and without the ball and solid physical strength. This is the combination which produces the greats as Maradonna and present day greats as Ronaldino, Zinédine Zidane, Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen.

In the past 6 months, Soda is very slowly picking up the other skills, despite the pressures of a youngster growing up in a very troublesome environment which puts much pressure on the youth of today.

With dedication, Soda can become an all-time great football player. But, that lies in entirely his hands as he turns his Takraw skills into being a team-playing footballer.

When a football scout appears to choose his players, he looks for a combination of all the essentials - not just one skill.

Many people ask me who I think has been the greatest football player of all-time. Many say that it is the Brazilian Pele.

When I witnessed the 1966 World Cup in England, there was only ONE great - Eusebio who played for Portugal, but was from Mozambique. Eusebio was the top scorer at the 1966 World Cup (9 goals) held in England. His lightning fast acceleration and wonderful ball control skills earned him acclaim. His trademark was a spectacular shot, which allied to his powerful running and dribbling skills, made him one of the most dangerous strikers of all time.

Born: 25 January 1942, Lourenco-Marques (now Maputo), Mozambique
International Caps: 64
International Goals: 46
Teams: Benfica (Portugal), Boston Minutemen (USA), Toronto Metros-Crotia (Canada), Las Vegas Quicksilver (USA)
Team Honours: European Cup 1962
Portuguese Cup: 1962, 1964, 1969, 1970, 1972
Individual Honours: European Footballer of the Year 1966
World Cup Top Scorer 1966: - 9 goals

Pele was a master of ball control and also had an amazing turn of speed, but the minute he came on the field, he had two people marking him with the deliberate intention to put him out of the game, physically. Even with all his skills, almost in every major match, he was sidelined within a few minutes.

They tried the same with Eusebio - but this 24-year old was truly amazing as he left his attackers wondering where he and the ball had gone. Besides his ball control, and his amazing teamwork, as Eusebio was a complete team player, he was able to leave his two markers not know which direction they should be running. It was truly hilarious as I watch in several instances, the markers looking dumb-founded at each other, while Eusebio was setting up his team for another goal, absolutely selflessly.

He led the goal scorers of the 1966 World Cup with 9 goals. he was voted European Footballer of 1966. In my humble opinion, he was undoubtedly the Greatest Footballer of the 1966 World Cup.

Scoring 38 goals in 46 games for Portugal, he had to end his first class career in 1974, when aged just 32. He injured his knee so badly he was advised never to play again. In Eusebio's spectacular short career he played 715 games and scored 727 goals. Only Ronaldino comes close to the football poweress of Esuebio.

Soda has a long way to go to reach this level of football - AND it lies entirely in his own hands! Like Esuebio, Soda has to live and breathe football with every single breath.

Soda taught our three new student CHAFF participants the principles of Takraw. In just 30 minutes, all three of them were controlling that ball with expertise that they may be able to form their own Takraw team.

Hopefully, this great spring weather will turn into a summer paradise. We could enjoy many more such active outdoor CHAFF meetings with the great food served up by the Pailin Restaurant.

Next week (Sunday 7th may, 13:00 hours, Pailin Restaurant, Kenttätie 9, Kasarmi) we are expecting a very special guest. Details in a later posting.

Kerstin, Ildikó and Anais

As a final word, I include a picture of three of our young and beautiful CHAFF particpants, taken on Saturday, - Kerstin (Germany), Ildikó (Hungary) and Anais (France).

It is this vibrant youthful spirit from Soda to Kaija and Pentti that has made CHAFF such an enormous success.

Au revoir, Anais.