No Wonder You Were Afraid to Ask #40– Emma Seppänen – Finland – Fighting to Help Women in the Slums of India and Animals.

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My name is Emma, I live in Finland and I’m 27 years old. I graduated from the University of Lapland with a Master of Arts and I work as a photographer, filmographer, and editor. I also started to do Olympic-style (amateur) boxing and competed between 2007-2012. Twice I have placed second in the championship of Finland, Champion of TUL, and Champion of Holland 2012. I decided to take a break from my training because I felt over-trained and I didn’t feel so energetic at that time. I was very tired. After a while I started to train again. Now my goal is to get back in the ring as a vegan fighter, either doing kickboxing or MMA. My personal Website is www.emmaseppanen.fi, it’s still in Finnish (in my language) but I hope in future I will have my website also available in English. You can find me on Twitter (@eseppane) or in Instagram (@seppanenemma). If you like my story, feel free to contact me.

When I was a child, I had few dreams that I wanted to make true. I wanted to live abroad, especially in France or in a French-speaking area and learn the language. I also wanted to work as a volunteer. Well, while studying at the University, I decided to move to Paris to work at Disneyland during the summer of 2011 and I was also accepted to study in Brussels as an exchange student 2011 to 2012. During my studies, I adopted a dog and after returning back home, I started to think about how I can help at a shelter. I didn’t have much money as a student. I didn’t know of any organizations and I always doubted where the donated money went. So I picked one shelter, I contacted them to get to know the staff and their work a little bit better and asked if it was ok if I plan some kind of an event to collect money and donate it to them. This happened in 2013. I planned a fitness boxing marathon. For one day our gym opened it doors for everyone to join our lessons. With the help of some other boxers, we kept in total 9 hours of fitness boxing and collected very good sponsors for our event. We collected good amount of money and donated 100% for one shelter in Romania, Pelastetaan Koirat Ry. Here’s a video that some students made of the event. All the texts are in Finnish unfortunately, but you can see the main idea.

After this, I went to India to do my internship as a photographer. I stayed there for nearly four months. During my stay, I did volunteer work in Jaipur’s elephant village. I went there to feed and clean the elephants and help the Mahout’s children to learn English. The whole experience was awesome. I stayed with one local family in Jaipur, and next to them there was an animal care center, Help in Suffering. I was helping there the abandoned street dogs, which suffered from different skin problems. You can find some pictures from my website http://emmaseppanen.fi/hyvantekevaisyys/ Their work is awesome and I encourage everyone to consider donating. Help In Suffering is helping all the living beings and they are doing what ever it takes to help others. If you ever visit India, Jaipur, this center is worth of visiting. If animals are close to your heart, donating even 1 dollar will help.

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During my stay in India, my Indian family and their neighbors and friends knew my background as a competitive boxer so one lady approached me and asked if I would be interested in teaching self-defense to women in the slums. Of course I was!

The lady, Shuchi Khurana, is the founder of SavetheSouls.org/, an organization for volunteers etc. So we started to plan a three-day event for children and women. It was boxing camp for charity and I had in total more than 300 students learning self-defense! Two days we were in a school and one day we kept self-defense for the children in Save the Souls. The event was a success!

If you are interested in volunteering and working with children, or children with special need or women in slums, (women empowerment) please check save the souls (also in Facebook here. Contact Shuchi. She is amazing woman you can trust, she can offer you a place to stay in India, and she will make you feel like you are at home. Shuchi is doing a very important work, she does not only help the poor, but also she does some cooperation with a speacial chilren school.

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The point is, everyone can help. If you’re a student, plan an event! Use your skills. If you can donate money, just choose the right organization for you. If you feel one dollar or euro isn’t enough, collect a group of donors and donate together. Create a social media group where you donate each month one dollar to an organization or different organizations. One dollar is not much, but when your group will grow, so does the donation. Collect children’s toys and give to the children’s hospital. There are a lot of ways to help others, just use your imagination.

I’m also very interested in finding new vegan items like clothing, training clothes/shoes, nutrition, etc. Anything that is suitable for training and helping me to reach to my goal which is trying to get back to the ring. Some companies, local and international are already cooperating with me.

Bonus Questions!

What is the coolest thing you ever won?

A few weeks ago, I actually won a trip to India. Kilroy is a travel agency that had a photo contest on Instagram. The idea was to send a photo where 2 different cultures meet. As I told earlier I kept the self-defense camp for women and children, my earlier boss, photographer Anshul Sharma took this image of me holding my hands up and teaching a young girl how to punch, I sent this image to the contest and I won. Now we are planning this trip to India with my family and we are collecting toys etc for the children in save the souls. This must be the best thing I have ever won.

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Do you have a pet? What’s its name? How’d it get that name? Supply a picture.

Yes, I have had many pets in my life; cats, dogs, guinea-pigs, budgies, etc. Now I have two dogs, the other one is 14-years-old pomeranian, Pete, and the other is the adopted dog from Brussels that I already mentioned. His name is Onni, which means Luck in English. I attached a picture of them with Elvis Presley’s quote. I took this picture last summer. I have always said that “my luck is made of animals” so that’s why I named him Onni. He is also the inspiration of my charity events.

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What is your favorite City?

Paris. I just love it. People are nice and Paris is very beautiful.

Do you have a favorite animal?

All of them.

What do you think is the most important invention ever?

Any those products which will replace the use of animal products (Meat, dairy products, leather, fur). I mean for example, oat milk replaces cow milk. This is a very good invention since people are the only species who drinks another animals milk. Cow’s milk belongs to calves, human milk for human babies. Real fur belongs for animals, fake fur is for us. Simple as that.

What is the most adventurous thing you ever did?

It has to be the time I spend in India. I met amazing people, I had great experiences during my internship, I had a change to take care of the elephants and other animals, also the charity camp for children and women…That’s why they say it’s incredible India.

What is your passion?

My passion is to do an important work. I love my job, but also I want to help others. As I said, it’s quite easy when you use your imagination. My next project is to go back to India in the end of February 2017 and bring some toys and children’s clothes to the savethesouls.org – organisation. If you want to also help, plz visit their website for more info or contact me. Maybe we can plan something 🙂

Do you think slaughterhouse animals feel pain? What do you think they are thinking when they are being slaughtered?

Absolutely they feel pain. This is one thing what makes me very sad. Why do people put the animals in small cages and make them suffer? Why some animals are popular than others? Why chickens are treated so bad and dogs are sleeping in the same bed than humans? According to some studies, chickens are even more clever than dogs; a dog learned one trick in 2 weeks, a chicken in 4 days. Why do people treat them so bad? Animals do feel pain, fear and happiness. How would you feel if you were kept in a small cage, if your skin were ripped off while you are still alive and how would you feel when someone is kicking you that you would move and then put you in a truck and you are hungry and thirsty and you need to be there for hours and then you will be slaughtered? Think that.

What is your favorite fruit? Why?

It’s gotta be the banana. It gives me energy!

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