Our Finnish member Helsingin Diakonissalaitos (Helsinki Deaconess Institute) celebrates its 150th anniversary this year.

The Deaconess Institute is one of the oldest social service providers in Finland. The Institute was founded in 1867 – at a time when crop failures, famine and epidemics plagued Finnish people. The impetus for the Institute’s foundation came from a group of Helsinki residents interested in advancing the cause of diaconia.

Through the Helsinki Deaconess Institute, the founders wished to alleviate the prevailing challenges in social welfare and health care. The sick required expert treatment and a stable future of providing help for those in distress had to be established. The model for such activity came from Central Europe, Germany in particular. The original deaconess institute opened in Kaiserswerth, Germany in 1836, and served as a model for dozens of institutes opened later.

A hospital and a sisters’ home were included in the institute. The home was a residential and study community: its young women, or sisters, were trained for the mission of deaconess and were supported for the rest of their lives. Since nursing was a key part in the life of a deaconess, the Institute began training nurses, and was the first organisation in Finland to do so. Today, Helsinki Diakonia College therefore carries the torch of long traditions in education.

Our Board member Ramona Petrika will be attending the anniversary ceremony on behalf of Eurodiaconia tomorrow in Helsinki, sending our message of congratulations to all our friends working for the institute.

To know more about the Institute, check out their website (EN-FI).