Why do you think Thursdays in Black is important for your community? What do you hope to accomplish as an ambassador?
Järvinen: I would say that of course there are many reasons, but I will just pick one focus area. We work a lot on education, educating young women and girls, and we see and we hear testimonies of what can happen in some of those communities and schools in which we work. Often we work with refugees, that means people can be unprotected, and very vulnerable. We see the need to do something and act on it. That’s why it’s important, and we want to make sure there’s an attitude change toward these kinds of things.
Can you share a story of hope from your experience?
Järvinen: There are actually a number of them. I have met young girls who have been sexually abused and harassed, at times even raped. We’ve been able to refer them to professionals to ensure that they get their legal rights but also the medical attention and the psychosocial support that they need. I worked in Africa for 12 years and I know that not only in Africa but in many communities, things are often silenced. But when these girls and young women have been able to express what they’ve been through, and justice has been realized, you can see they have been empowered. Of course it doesn’t take away their pain or the experience but it offers hope that someday things will be better not only for them but for the whole community.
Could you also share how supporting Thursdays in Black intersects with your personal faith?
Järvinen: I think faith is about belief, but it’s also about action, and if I have to put the accent on one of them, it’s action. This is a way for me to get engaged. As an executive director, you have a number of things on your plate, and you cannot focus on one thing as much as you want to but this is a way for me to motivate and also get other people rallying behind this cause. It’s a little thing but it’s something I can do and it’s about action. Our vision statement for Finn Church Aid is “action for human dignity” so it very much falls into that category. I like action and I like that we do even the small things that we can to support this kind of cause.
What can we pray for you as you take on this new role?
Järvinen: I think it’s about wisdom and continuity, the ability to commit long term. We are facing in Finland most probably cuts in government support. We need resources. We need people who believe in the same cause, and we need to be able to work in communities where things are very sensitive, so we pray that we can work without doing harm to those who have been violated. We also pray to work in a way and with an attitude that would change things so that this could no longer happen. So, pray for wisdom and strength to keep our commitment ongoing.