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Sauli Niinistö honours mothers helping others

On Mother's Day, the Finnish President recognised 35 distinguished mothers at an official ceremony in Helsinki.

Palkittu äiti Helena Nordberg ja presidentti Sauli Niinistö keskustelivat yhteiskuvauksen jälkeen Mannerheimin Lastensuojeluliiton valtakunnallisessa äitienpäiväjuhlassa
Sauli Niinistö with recipients of the 2019 Mother's Day award. Since the award’s inception in 1946, moms who've gained the nod tend to have many children, a rural domicile and a history of active duty in charity and volunteer organisations. Urban mothers with few children have rarely ascended the podium. Image: Marku Ulander / Lehtikuva

The Mannerheim League for Child Welfare said this year's Mother's Day award recipients represented the diverse nature of today's families - from moms raising large families to those fostering children.

The award, the First Class Medal of the White Rose of Finland with golden cross, only goes to women that have passed the age of 40. The principle is to award mothers who have made significant contributions to child-rearing. The proposal to nominate a candidate must come from a municipality or formal organisation or association, although nothing stops children from filing an application on their mother’s behalf.

Mother-of-three Pirjo Hartikainen was one of the mothers recognised by the president. Her first-born has AGU (Aspartylglucosaminuria), a rare disorder on which scant information was available 27 years ago. This void prompted her to establish Finland’s first AGU support group, which she chaired for two decades.

”All people are different, whether they have a disability or not. It’s good for kids to accept this from a young age,” she said.

Bawmar Majsjö, originally from Myanmar, arrived in Finland with five minor children in 2009 after her spouse died. She is her youngest daughter’s caretaker.

Bawmar Majsjö
Bawmar Majsjö

“She can’t walk or talk, so I have always helped her. But now that she is older, it has become difficult to lift her. Life is hard and I just keep trying to move forward. Sometimes I feel like I can’t go on, but I have to,” Majsjö explained.

Another award recipient Sanna Heikkinen has nine children and works as an instructor for the disabled while studying to become a community educator.

Heikkinen highlighted the importance of mothers not forgetting to take care of themselves.

”Motherhood can be tough at times, but it’s a part of life. The amount of love is incredible and helps carry us forward.”

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