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Jenni's room launched at the Peace House in memory of Jenni Viitala

Hanoi (Viet Nam), 10 December 2010
- Many of you may remember that earlier this year the Gender Programme Coordination Group called for donations to the Peace House, in memory of our dear friend and colleague Jenni Viitala, who died so tragically last year. The Peace House is Hanoi's most established shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children, and is the only national shelter that provides a comprehensive package of services for residents. Jenni worked closely with the Centre for Women in Development (CWD) and the Peace House during her time in Viet Nam.

The Peace House received donations of clothes, toys, books and furniture, together with cash amounting to more than VND 133,200,000 (USD$ 6,800) to furnish a counseling room for women and children. On Wednesday 1 December 2010, representatives from the Gender Programme Coordination Group, the Ministry of Public Security, Jenni's friends Kaisa and Jamir and UNODC, attended the launch of Jenni's room.

In fact, two rooms have been furnished and rebuilt. One is a counseling room, where women can receive counseling and therapy in a private and comfortable setting. The other room is a playroom for children. It was incredibly moving to see both rooms ready for use, with Jenni's picture on the wall, and to hear the staff of Centre for Women in Development, General Nguyen Van Ba from the Ministry of Public Security and Jenni's dear friend Kaisa speak about their memories of Jenni.

The Peace House shelter is a very peaceful and positive place, where women and their children, who have experienced violence, can not only gain respite but build new lives. In the words of one resident: "After coming to the Peace House, the greatest change for me has been a spiritual one. I feel much stronger now. This is a place for women to rebuild their self-esteem."

On behalf of the Gender Programme Coordination Group, Jenni's family and friends, the Centre for Women in Development and UNODC we would like to sincerely thank all those who supported and contributed to the Peace House.

Kaisa, Jenni's friend, said it all when stating that: "It would have meant the world to Jenni to see the two rooms refurbished and furnished, providing support and care to women and their children affected by domestic violence. And it means the world to us."