Creating friendships with Caritas

Two women hiking in the woods sitting in front of a fire, each with a thermos cup

Every Thursday, immigrant women meet at the Resource Center to share experiences and learn about life in Norway. This also leads to friendships.

Arriving in a new country can be challenging in many ways. Language barrier is one. Loneliness is another. But also a lack of knowledge about Norwegian society and rights. The list is long, so we'll just mention a few.

That's why Caritas has had its own women's groups for several years. The aim is to make it easier to become part of Norwegian society. The topics of the weekly meetings vary - everything from how to find your way around the health service, women's health, domestic violence, mental and social health, employment law, personal finances and Norwegian culture.

The women meet every Thursday for eight weeks. They bring with them various experiences from their home countries and here that they share. At the last meeting, one of the women said that it was only now, after three years in Norway, that she found out about the women's services offered by Caritas. She was happy about that. The years as a newcomer had been a bit lonely.

advisor Camilla Walvik Gundersen in caritas norway
Camilla Gundersen, advisor at Caritas Norway
Camilla Walvik Gundersen follows up on the women's groups at Caritas resource center (Photo: Anette Skomsøy/Caritas Norway)

She follows up on our women's programs, and says that many participants exchange contact information and meet up in their free time.

They form groups of friends. And through word of mouth, they spread the word about the women's groups and other important information. This means that more people seek us out. In the fall, we'll be expanding the offer with a separate group for those who speak Spanish.

advisor Camilla Walvik Gundersen in caritas norway

She adds that there will also be courses combining job search, language and women's groups. If all goes according to plan, this will start sometime in the second half of September.

The women's groups are also important arenas for informing and raising awareness of taboo topics, as well as identifying cases of domestic violence, negative social control, etc.

Recently, we heard the story of a Latin American woman who wants to apply for asylum. As a queer, she is persecuted and harassed in her home country. If it wasn't for word of mouth, she might not have come to us. Now we're following her up both emotionally and practically to make sure she gets the help she needs on her way forward.

advisor Camilla Walvik Gundersen in caritas norway

Read more about our courses and activities here.