Marja Kyrola – Finland
It is an honour and a pleasure to be a member of the world’s greatest women’s organization for over 20 years. After I had functioned in the board of my club, and particularly during my time as its president, I began to really understand the scope of what this organization does. I found out even more through acting at district level. But only when I served in the National Board, I got a true idea of how much this organization does across borders. I feel great pride to be a part of this women’s organization. Over these years, more and more information about our international activities has also become available on the internet.
The world is becoming more restless, and more and more help is needed. We continuously read and see messages about desperate people who have left or had to flee their home country. As an organization, Inner Wheel is very current. Every member and every club offer help, in their own vicinity and in their own ways, to persons, families, and even large groups of people who have ended up in dire need for assistance. Various natural disasters and forms of persecution have become more everyday phenomena. Human distress seems to grow each day.
In my work as a special education teacher I have faced many of these issues every school term. I have taught children with various degrees of learning and focusing difficulties, and increasingly also social and emotional issues. In recent years, particularly behavioural problems and difficulties in acting empathetically towards others have been increasing. Bullying and self-centeredness have become more commonplace.
I have heard about reasons that have forced families to leave their home countries. In my school there have been students whose families have sent them to search for a better life, hoping that one day the family, or even just a part of the family, could be together again and start a new life together. In my classroom I have also had children of refugee families who have had one thing in common: their mothers’ inability to read and write. The fathers, if they are still in the picture, have known how to read and write. We can only imagine what these mothers have felt like in a strange country, without these basic skills. They have had to rely on their children whose skills have also been insufficient.
The best way to help everyone is education. Inner Wheel is a worldwide women’s organization and I want to be a part of developing its activities to help those in need. Girls’ and women’s reading and writing skills, as well as basic mathematical skills, are the issue closest to my heart. Teaching these skills will be key for helping girls and women, as well as for improving the living situation of their families.
My own family includes my husband and our three adult children, two daughters and one son, and our first grandchild. We live in the countryside and farm the family estate together.