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Harry Potter translator bemoans Finnish refugee policy

Jaana Kapari-Jatta is known for translating the Harry Potter series of novels into Finnish, and she has also founded a school in Seregunda, Gambia. Kapari-Jatta says she sometimes feels ashamed of being Finnish due to the country's refugee policies.

Jaana Kapari tuo afrikkalaisten käsitöläisten tuotteita Suomeen.
Jaana Kapari-Jatta. Image: Jouni Koutonen / Yle

In 2012 Jaana Kapari-Jatta, translator of the Harry Potter books into Finnish, founded a polytechnic educational facility in Seregunda, Gambia with her husband. The school – called the Loviisa Vocational Institute – teaches English, mathematics, IT, economics, photography, clothing design and more.

The vocational school is run on computers, mobile phones and household electronics donated from Finland.

"About 400 students have studied or are currently studying here, and the education is completely free," Kapari-Jatta says. "The need for education in Africa is absolutely bottomless. Many people do not have the money or the opportunity to study, and wanting an education is hard for many here to understand."

Kapari-Jatta says that the students at the Loviisa school are so motivated that they almost always retake unfinished or failed courses and exams.

"I get really angry about Finnish politics"

Lately the media has been full of news on the Finnish government tightening its refugee policies and cutting substantially from international aid. Kapari-Jatta says the news affects her greatly.

"Sometimes I feel ashamed to be Finnish and I get really angry at the Finnish government," she says. "I just can't understand how another thousand people couldn't fit in Finland."

Kapari-Jatta says she is not an expert on refugee issues, but tries to make a difference through her own trade firm. She imports handicrafts from all around Africa into Finland.

"What I can do is run my little summer shop and show Finns some of the gems of African culture. The people who make our products have no desire to drown in the Mediterranean. The fact is that people die constantly on our borders."

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