Mobility lifeline for SOS Mum in Arctic Circle

  • Chevrolet Captiva provides mobility to SOS Children’s Villages in extreme temperatures of -47.5°C (-54°F)
  • Centennial celebration highlights global partnership between Chevrolet and SOS Children’s Villages

Chevrolet Santa Capriva

Finland. Like many mums, Epu, uses her car for everything from ferrying children to school and shopping trips to taking children to sports lessons.

Epu is not just any mum. She is a carer and social worker for SOS Children’s Villages, an organisation focused on family-based, long-term care of children who are not able to grow up with their biological families. For the last seven years Epu has been ‘Mum’ to four children at the charity’s center in Ylitornio in Finland.

“As an SOS mum, I look after children who come from different backgrounds and ages, and at the same time are left to face the many challenges in life on their own. Providing a loving home for any child along with the support of a stable family environment, these children gain better life opportunities as they become independent young adults,” adds Epu.

A day in the life of an SOS Mum

It’s a quiet day for Epu beginning with school runs followed by swimming with Hannu and then horse-riding for Kimi and Ari. The next activity on her to-do list is a play date with the children’s friends and finally Kari heads to her band rehearsal.

Ylitornio is the most northerly SOS Children’s Village in the world – 850 km north of Helsinki – and consists of six SOS family houses of children plus a community house where 25 children aged from one to 21 years can study and pursue leisure activities, as well as an after school support program. All of these runs and more require logistical support from the village’s Chevrolet Captiva.

In Finland’s Arctic Circle in Ylitornio Epu would be completely stranded without her car. The journey in her Chevrolet Captiva is far from average as it starts in the sub-zero freezing temperatures of Ylitornio dawn, with two hour round trips to Kemi and Rovenami— in Finlands northern most province— finishing in nearby Sweden at 8pm. Epu and her SOS family average over 300 km using the Captiva in their daily runs.

“If we take a child to see a pediatrician at the hospital or opticians in Kemi, it’s a two hour trip by car as we only have a small minor injury unit in Ylitornio,” adds Epu. “There is only one train a day from Ylitornio to Kemi and winter brings severe disruption to services. If you miss it you have to wait a day for the next one. More serious medical attention requires a Medivac helicopter to the nearest emergency room which is 100km away in Rovaniemi.”

Lifeline to our lives

The SOS Children’s Village of Ylitornio in Finland has been given the fiftieth of 100 birthday presents Chevrolet is gifting SOS Children’s Villages across Europe, Uzbekistan, South Africa, Lesotho and Israel in its centennial year.

The New Chevrolet Captiva is providing invaluable mobility to this family who live in areas where temperatures fall as low as -47.5°C (-54°F) and snow stays on the ground for an average of 183 days a year! And with just four hours of daylight in winter – sun rise at 10:00 and sun set at 14:00 – Epu’s daily commute can be in total darkness.

“Having access to the Captiva makes my life easier in the winter,” says Kari, one of the children who live in the village. “It’s really useful for me when I take my musical instruments for school and is helpful for the long journeys when we travel through the mountains to ski.”

“We’re like any family in the world where children go to school, have friends over and enjoy hobbies,” says Epu, “but the difference is that we live in the Arctic Circle, so everything is 70 km or more from our home and below freezing for most of the year. For us, a reliable car equipped with studded tyres is essential.”

Since the Chevrolet Captiva was delivered to the village in August, it has been in constant use in Ylitornio and Lapland by the Village social workers, child psychologists and volunteers – already covering 35,000 km.

Epu adds: “The car is the lifeline to our lives. It’s used for everything as I face the same challenges of running a large household as other parents do. With virtually no public transport, mobility is absolutely crucial for us to be able to support the children. From a simple trip to the shops, journey to medical appointment or simply going to the recycling center with a trailer, we simply cannot live without the car.”

Tests in extreme weather

People in Ylitornio make use of the Arctic landscape all year round, skiing and hiking in nature reserves or playing ice hockey. The village uses the Olympic White Chevrolet Captiva 2.2 liter LT to transport groups of children to picnics and ski and summer hiking camps in Oravanpesa – testing the Chevrolet’s stowage and trailer towing capabilities.

“The Captiva has adapted to the village’s demanding and unpredictable schedule. After five months and 35,000 km, it easily meets every transportation challenge,” said Village Director Kai Lommu. “Ylitornio is one of the most extreme places on earth to live, but the Captiva gift allows us to make the most of every journey for the children we care for.

***The names of children in this story have been changed

Ylitornio Arctic Facts

  • Ylitornio is 850 km north of Helsinki – a journey of 11 hours by car.
  • Rovaniemi in the Arctic Circle is the official home of Santa Claus.
  • Rovaniemi is also home to the world’s most northern branch of McDonald’s.
  • Nearby Ounasvaara is the site of some of the earliest known human settlements in the Arctic.
  • The Aurora Borealis, Northern Lights, can be seen up to 200 times a year in Ylitornio
  • In winter there are just four hours of daylight.
  • The lowest temperature ever recorded in Ylitornio (−47.5 °c/−54 °F), was set on January 28, 1999.
  • The midnight sun can be seen from June 6 to July 7.