Refugees at the core of Finn Church Aid’s work in 2019

Cover of Finn Church Aid's annual report 2019

2019 was a very positive year for the progress and operations of Finn Church Aid.

As our newly published annual report states, the three themes at the core of our work; Right to Quality Education, Right to Livelihood and Right to Peace, continue to be essential given the current situation of the world. One might even say that their significance is just growing.

Education, livelihoods and peace form the pillars that together hold up entire societies. When people have an education, they have the possibility of ensuring their livelihoods. People with livelihoods in turn have hope. This is why both education and livelihoods affect peace within societies. Peace is also the prerequisite for both education and livelihoods.

The importance of these three essential elements has been realised in our programme countries, and it is a joy to see how those countries wish to develop the quality of their educational systems. Some examples of the success of Finn Church Aid in 2019 include the nationwide introduction of vocational education curricula in South Sudan and the better integration of career counselling into the educational systems of Cambodia and Myanmar.

All along, Finn Church Aid’s operations in humanitarian situations have increasingly changed toward actions for the benefit of refugees that are carried out in cooperation with the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and countries hosting those refugees. It is crucial for people who have ended up as refugees to have the opportunity to gain a quality education. This endeavour has been at the core of our operations in recent years. For example, approximately 1,800 teachers are already working in various educational programmes as employees recruited by Finn Church Aid in East Africa, in regions that host large numbers of refugees.

In 2019, the confidence of our donors and supporters showed as increased income, of which an increasing share was allocated to the costs of our actual development and humanitarian programmes. Finn Church Aid is Finland’s largest international aid organisation. At the end of the year, our organisation employed approximately 2,200 people working in several European countries and the USA, in addition to our 14 countries of operation.

Our size on the global scale is in the medium range; however, it is important to keep in mind that the key objective of our operations is not always the number of beneficiaries, but rather the quality and accessibility of our support even under challenging circumstances. Usually, our programme countries are located in war zones or otherwise fragile operating environments. When we speak about the quality of our work, it is of paramount importance to find and engage professional staff.

The world is in a state of constant change, which is one of the most significant challenges in our work. At the time of writing this foreword a multitude of dark clouds are looming over the world. The Covid-19 pandemic has gripped Finns and other developed countries as well as people in developing countries. Restrictions prevent normal operations and severely impact the economies of the countries involved and thereby the lives of individual people as well.

In light of this, we will have to prepare for global restrictions and challenges in the future. Our strong hope is to strengthen the objectives we have already achieved, but at the same time to enhance the capacity of the communities to survive the impacts of the pandemic. The prospects for this entire decade are very different to what the prospects were for 2019.

Jouni Hemberg
Executive Director