Who are you? Please, describe your background freely.
"For the last twelve years I worked with NGOs, activist, human rights defenders’ groups, and university research projects on issues such as minority groups and inequalities, gender and intersectional inequality, disability justice, migration and uneven development and poverty. I focused particularly on post-socialist countries and on the Nordic countries. Now I work as a development manager in the International Affairs Unit of the Deaconess Foundation, and I am also a board and expert member of several Finnish NGOs and institutions working on human rights issues.
I was born in East Romania, Bacau city. After moving to Finland, I maintained communication and ties to family members who live in Romania, and I visit the country regularly. Also, through both my NGO and research work, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with human rights activists and researchers from Romania. Because of my own positionality and experiences, inequalities related to migration and displacement wider, interest me very much as well as how migrants maintain connections across borders and adapt in the new places. Asking how societies define who are the citizens in the wide sense, who have full access to rights and who don’t, and how to change that, interests me very much.
I worked as a personal assistant for several years in Finland. We are still friends with the person that employed me for this position. We had great time together, travelling to different places in Finland when the country was new for me. We also planned a trip to Romania but unfortunately this didn’t happen yet. It was a deep experience to learn about the everyday barriers faced by persons with disability in Finland. At the same time, I got to know wonderful human rights activists such as Kalle Könkkölä and I learned about the activism work behind the personal assistance law, and other important services and policies in Finland."
How is your everyday life?
"My everyday life is organized around working, studying, spending time with my family and having conversations with activists and minority groups in Finland and abroad. My son Teo is six years old, and as much as possible I spend time with him and with his friends. As a family we also keep in touch as much as possible with extended family members, such as grandparents and parents in Romania and in Finland."
How did you become interested about Abilis and being a member of the board of Abilis? What expectations do you have for the next two-year period?
"I became more familiar with Abilis when I worked and lived in Kosovo. I worked with the United Nations Development Programme in Kosovo, the employment inclusion team, and one project was implemented in cooperation with the Handikos NGO. I got to know how this organisation was established and developed with the support of Finnish disability activists and Abilis Foundation. This work was started during the war in the Balkans and the cooperation continued since. I learned a lot from seeing how genuine, friendly, and equal the partnership and the exchanges between Finnish disability activists and their Kosovar colleagues have been. The solidarity at the base of the cooperation was very powerful and radical, and in my opinion all partnerships should be based on common values and struggles.
I admired Abilis’s work very much before joining the board. I wanted to learn more about the international disability movement and about the work of disability activists in particular contexts. I considered that through the board work I can learn and contribute myself to discussions about disability and intersectional inequalities, this is to say who are the persons with disability who encounter multiple inequalities in specific contexts. The term that starts is an important one as Abilis starts its new programme. I wish that the good collaboration, critical, fruitful, and reflective discussions, between the board members and Abilis’s direct and staff team will continue also in the coming year. I hope that we will continue to use our individual and collective expertise so that it fully serves and enables the work of the foundation. Meeting Abilis’s partner from different countries and stakeholders’ groups is very fruitful so I hope the Corona situation will improve and such events will become possible. "
What is your motto?
“Nothing about us without us”
What is the bravest act you have conducted so far? Why?
"It’s hard to compare between different acts. Sometimes some acts are very significant though they don’t seem “as the bravest”. But I think one important thing it has been questioning and reflecting over my own positionality when working on disability and human rights justice. As more concrete acts, when I worked with undocumented Roma migrants in Helsinki, I did not hide behind the “professional” cover and just closed the door of our community centre when the closing time came but took the time and called around, to authorities and activists, and tried to find places where the homeless could sleep during cold nights. I did not accept that the undocumented Roma do not have rights to night shelter, which was the state and municipal policy back then."