Mediators do not choose the conflicts they became involved in, but the parties to the conflict choose the mediator. Their participation as intermediaries is based on the trust of all the conflicting parties.
The task of the mediator is to help the parties to open difficult issues and nudge them forward in the peace process. The mediator's role combines those of a ship's pilot, consulting medical doctor, midwife and teacher.
With my mother, I moved from one household to another before settling in the eastern part of Finland, in the city of Kuopio.
The origins of my career as a peace mediator can be found from my childhood years. I was born in the city of Viipuri, then still part of Finland. We lost Viipuri when the Soviet Union attacked my country. Along with 400,000 fellow Karelians, I became an eternally displaced person in the rest of Finland.
Like several hundred thousand fellow Karelians, we became refugees in our own country as great power politics caused the borders of Finland to be redrawn and left my home town as part of the Soviet Union.