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150 years of supporting
the most vulnerable

Helsinki Deaconess Institute is one of the oldest corporations operating without interruption in Finland. The Institute was founded in 1867 – at a time when crop failures, famine and epidemics plagued the citizens of Finland. The impetus for the Institute's foundation came from a group of Helsinki residents interested in advancing the cause of diaconia. The best-known member of this group was Aurora Karamzin (1808–1902), a colonel's wife. Her financial support played a key role in safeguarding the Institute's operations during its first decades.

Through the Deaconess Institute, the founders wished to alleviate the prevailing circumstances in social welfare and health care. The sick required expert treatment and the future availability of help for those in distress had to be secured. The model for such activity came from Central Europe, Germany in particular. The deaconess institute opened in Kaiserswerth in 1836 served as a model for dozens of institutes.

Helsinki Deaconess Institute comprised a hospital and sisters' home. The home was a residential and study community: its young women, or sisters, were trained for the mission of a deaconess and were supported for the rest of their lives. Since nursing was a key part of the life of a deaconess, the Institute began training nurses as the first organisation in Finland. Helsinki Diakonia College therefore carries the torch of long traditions in education.

Aurora Karamzin (1808–1902) was a notable benefactor and an influential social figure in Finland. Many of our current social welfare and health care services originated in the charitable work of Aurora Karamzin.

Contact information

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Tel. +358 40 485 3545

Jaana af Hällström, Museum Director Tel. +358 40  485 3545
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Courage to care – the Helsinki Deaconess Institute at 150

The Helsinki Deaconess Institute is one of Finland’s oldest communities in continuous operation. It was established in 1867 as a hospital for infectious diseases and a place where young women were trained as deaconesses to assist people in distress. For the past 150 years, the institute has pioneered new solutions in social terrains where human dignity is under threat.

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150 lanterns light up the darkness

The 150th anniversary celebrations of the Helsinki Deaconess Institute began on 5 January with a lantern festival. More than a hundred people came to the institute to light up the winter darkness, while many more were there in spirit.

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City Block Party held in spirit of communality

The Helsinki Deaconess Institute (HDI) held a summery festivity at the end of August at the institute’s complex on Alppikatu to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its foundation. The party had a packed programme ranging from theatrical performances to a soup kitchen, a history trail, singsong, and bands.


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Helsinki Deaconess Institute Museum

Diamus – museum of the Helsinki Deaconess Institute exhibit the trajectory of the Deaconess Institute, which started in 1867 with a small epidemic hospital and developed into a social enterprise group.