It is rare to hear so many languages in such a small place. In Maahanmuuttajainfo Mainio office, it is possible! Mainio translates roughly as ”remarkable”.
Remarkable it is. At Mainio, immigrants are assisted and instructed in all topics related to work, education, housing, residence permits, health and social services. Mainio is free and open to everybody, regardless of the reasons that led you to move to Finland.
The office has only one full-time employee; Kristiina Teiss. Originally she was an immigrant herself. She came to Tampere 20 years ago as an exchange student from Tallinn, majoring in Finnish.
Teaching Finnish language to other immigrants, she soon realized that many groups needed assistance in social matters in their own languages. To try and find about things in Finnish was simply too slow.
– A position opened in the Alma project, in which I was able to develop this instruction idea. After six years the activity was regularized and I stayed to coordinate the project.
– We arranged a competition for the name and in December 2013 we began to call this service Mainio.
Last year Mainio had more than 3 000 customer contacts, although the resources only allow the doors to be open three days a week.
– Up to 70 per cent of the contacts take place here, but of course we also use email, telephone and go to other offices to assist people.
– The instruction is mostly outsourced. Thus we can currently provide services in at least 15 languages. Each instructor works here from two to eight hours a week.
– I wish we could have a common multicultural house, where Mainio could work alongside with immigrant associations and friendship societies.