On 27 August of this year conversations in Kurdish, Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese, Russian and English could be heard at 22 Cukura Street – foreigners from different parts of the world visited the Open Day event of the Information Centre for Newcomers (ICN) to learn more about ICN activities, obtain free advice on legal, education and employment matters.
„At Information Centre for Newcomers (ICN) newcomers as well as specialists working with the target group obtain support on various matters. Some require the advice of an expert lawyer to resolve employment matters and everyday life problems, some are interested in education opportunities, but there are also those, who are looking for like-minded people,” tells ICN spokesperson Rasa Salina (Rasa Saliņa), who also indicates that all in all the Open Day event, which lasted several hours, was attended by approximately 50 interested persons. Some of them are already known to employees and have received support from ICN, which has resulted in a close contact, some, however, are foreigners looking for support for the first time.
Irfan from India tells that he arrived in Jelgava a year ago to study information technologies, but during his studies became aware of business opportunities in the city and opened his diner „Pakistānas kebabs” (Pakistani Kebab). He indicates that the head of ICN provides considerable support to foreigners in several matters. „Now, after having spent an entire year in Latvia, I understand that a number of processes could have been made faster and easier. The greatest challenge for me was the language barrier and confusion with regard to a couple of legal issues,” says he and adds that the head of ICN Gunita Berza (Gunita Bērza) assisted him in resolving both of these problems efficiently. „With support from ICN I began learning Latvian, brought my family to Jelgava and now my little daughter has began attending a kindergarten in the city,” expands Irfan, explaining that now he feels that he has established himself in the city and plans his future in Latvia. „I see potential for living and earning money here. My country is overpopulated and corruption prevails everywhere,” admits the Indian.
Ainura married a man from Jelgava and came here from Kazakhstan. She tells that ICN helped her to find like-minded people. „Immediately upon my arrival here I felt very insecure and spent a lot of time alone. Then I learned about the centre, went for a consultation and everything changed rapidly – I began learning Latvian, participated in various cultural events, learned to know new people,” she tells. Ainura adds that she has just founded her own society and is thinking about ways to further tourism and expand the horizons of inhabitants of Jelgava. „I have noticed that Latvians are interested in the culture of the East. I would gladly introduce them to it here in Jelgava – we have a great number of traditional festivals, which would look rather colourful here,” she tells, adding that she also considers the possibility to bring Jelgava to the attention of people in her homeland as a tourism destination in the future.
Vu Duc Tho from Vietnam is a new arrival among the customers of ICN and has come for advice. He came to Latvia with his family a couple of months ago as an investor and board member in a IT enterprise. „Presently the greatest problem for me here in Latvia is the language barrier. I was able to schedule language training with the help of a Vietnamese interpreter today. I hope it will make my everyday life much easier,” he tells and adds that he also exploited the opportunity to ask some specific business related questions to the lawyer through the interpreter.
Information Centre for Newcomers operates in the entire territory of Latvia and provides wide-ranging support free of charge to foreign citizens and service providers from various industries, as well as specialists working with this target group. Since the beginning of the year 23 interpreters and language experts work at the centre and help to ensure quality communication with ICN customers. The interpreters and language experts work with the following 11 languages: Arabic, Kurdish, Dari, Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Turkish, Hindi, Tigrinya, Sorani and Georgian.
ICN regional focal point for Zemgale is located in Jelgava, at 7 Peldu Street. An appointment with the head of ICN G.Berza can be scheduled by phone 25719588 or completing the application form on the home page www.integration.lv
Open Day was organised by working together with Zemgale NGO Centre.
The activity of the Information Centre for Newcomers within the framework of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund is ensured and developed by the NGO “Shelter “Safe House””. The centre is co-funded by the European Union. Grant Agreement No. PMIF/12/2017/2/01.
Information published with the permission of the editorial office of newspaper "Jelgavas vēstnesis". Information prepared by Anastasija Miteniece (Anastasija Miteniece) from "Jelgavas vēstnesis" and Rasa Salina, multimedia communications specialist, phone 29145314.