Website gives voice to immigrants

A website called Voice of Migrants was launched in May, showcasing blogs and introductions from young people and adults who have moved to Latvia from abroad. The website aims to fill a communication void, publicizing the underrepresented position of the immigrants, reported a story on Latvian Radio Tuesday.

The author of the project, Alexey Anisimov, left Russia to study in Latvia, and hopes that with the news stories immigrants will share their experiences with themselves and address the Latvian society.

On the website, there are currently stories of eight people who have moved to Latvia, accompanied by pictures and names of the places they came from. Most of them come from Eastern Europe and Russia, but people from Kyrgyzstan and China have found their way into the website as well.

"First of all [I came here] because it's easy to do business, especially in comparison to Western Europe," said Andrey Rodionov, an aspiring entrepreneur from Russia. He has lived in Riga for a year and now speaks fluent Latvian.

He likes everything about Latvia, except the climate. He enjoys that there are equal opportunities for everyone - in stark contrast with Russia. 

The author of the website, Alexey Anisimov, has discovered that the number of people who move to Latvia from Eastern Europe, Asia and the former Soviet republics is increasing each year. He is 32 and arrived from Russia seven months ago. He had graduated from a university in Moscow and worked a bit, but decided to continue his studies in Riga.

"The goal of the project is to maintain a platform where immigrants can tell their story. It gives them a chance to tell what they think about Latvia, what they are doing here, and anything else that they want to tell us," said Anisimov.

He expects the Voice of Migrants website to become even more important when Latvia will have accepted refugees from third countries, saying that they should be given a chance to express themselves, introduce themselves and meet others who have a similar story.

Indra Mangule, a researcher of immigration and civil participation matters in the PROVIDUS Centre for Public Policy, said that "We PROVIDUS think that the platform is necessary. Otherwise there are many experts who can talk about migration matters and problems with integration, but it's the human stories that are lacking."

"I would call it the first step in the right direction. Communication is the thing often lacking when it comes to something alien or unknown," said Mangule.

The website welcomes everyone residing in Latvia for over a year to apply to become a blogger and share their story. 

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