The Society for Children Displaced by War
Evakkolapset ry, The Society for Children Displaced by War, is a peer support society founded by individuals who, along with their families, were forced to leave their homes and homesteads in their childhood during the wars in Finland between 1939 and 1944. Its membership also includes second and third generation descendants of such displaced people. The society welcomes anyone to join who is concerned about the effect of wartime conditions on a child’s development.
More than half a million Finns had to flee from their homes during the Winter and Continuation Wars more than sixty years ago. Only a small number of the displaced families, principally from Lapland and the Porkkala region on the south coast, were able to return to their homesteads after the wars. As many as 420,000 individuals, mainly displaced from the region of Karelia in the southeast, and Salla and Petsamo in the north, lost their homes and domiciles for good. A great number of them were children. Moreover, a large number of babies were born to displaced parents before they were able to resettle permanently on new homesteads.
The society aims at increasing both common and research-derived knowledge as to how the Winter War (1939-1940) and the Continuation War (1941-1944) have affected the development and adult life of the individuals who experienced these conflicts when they were children.
Local Activities All over Finland
In the spirit of a peer support society, local activities are offered all over Finland. These help to compile and record information relating to wartime experiences. With the help of narrative techniques and various forms of expression, the society focuses on highlighting what wartime displacement entails.
An annual gathering takes place towards the end of the summer. On this occasion, through group work and various workshop activities, participants share a sense of belonging. In addition, the annual gathering enables and enhances communication between and support from different generations.
Evakkovaellus, The Trail of the Displaced
In June 2006, The Society for Children Displaced by War pioneered an event with the title Evakkovaellus, The Trail of the Displaced, to commemorate all people who are displaced through war. In future, the event is to take place annually in order to obtain experience how it must have felt emotionally to be compelled to leave one’s home at short notice and to flee unprepared from the war zone without any knowledge whatsoever about the next night’s shelter let alone the next meal (details of the Trail are available at www.evakkovaellus.fi).