Dansk Flygtningehjælp (The Danish Refugee Council) – Frivilligbladet (The Volunteer Post) – Interview with yours truly

Dansk Flygtningehjælp - FrivilligbladetDansk Flygtningehjælp (The Danish Refugee Council) – Frivilligbladet (The Volunteer Post)

Dansk Flygtningehjælp (The Danish Refugee Council), has just published the latest issue of Frivilligbladet (The Volunteer Post). This time they have a piece on our trip to Ringkøbing in the western part of Denmark, and I’m very proud to be featured in it.

Besides the fact that the article basically is an interview with yours truly, it’s also accompanied by pictures taken by me. I’m really, really proud and humbled by this.

Since the article is in Danish, I’m hereby publishing an English language translation.

FROM MJØLNERPARKEN TO WESTERN JUTLAND
Frivilligbladet Volume 3, 2006, written by Bente Bækgaard

It’s a long distance from Mjølnerparken in Copenhagen to Western Jutland (the main peninsula of Denmark). Despite that fact a group of volunteers from Mjølnerparken had success going on a trip with 21 children to Hee near Ringkøbing. The trip became a success, in part because it was planned in close co-operation with the volunteer group in Ringkøbing as well as local partners.

Sea, sun and blue skies. 42 brown legs from Mjølnerparken are streaking across the sandy dunes and into the roaring North Sea. In the background is a group of volunteers. They’re also from Mjølnerparken. They’re the organisers of the vacation trip to Western Jutland, aided by two consultants, the volunteers from Ringkøbing and local partners from Mjølnerparken.

Co-operation

“The idea behind the trip surfaced after the yearly assembly in April, where our volunteer consultant had talked to the volunteers in Ringkøbing about the possibility of arranging a vacation trip. We felt that that was a great idea, that we wanted to help realising.” says Kim Bach, who has acted as the co-ordinator of the trip.

Shortly after the yearly assembly of the volunteers in April, he and seven other volunteers from the group in Mjølnerparken contacted the group in Ringkøbing. And the planning of the vacation trip had started.

Aid from the group in Ringkøbing

The alliance with the group of volunteers from Ringkøbing turned out to be a huge asset for the volunteers from Mjølnerparken. The volunteers didn’t have much previous knowledge of the possibilities in the western part of Jutland, so at that point the local partner came to the rescue: “It was a great help having some locals to co-operate with. They have much more knowledge of the area than we do, and besides that, they also know our target group. This means that they quickly can point us in a direction that is interesting for us”, says Kim Bach.

The volunteers from Ringkøbing helped us locate a place to stay, and to find activities for the children. To top this, the volunteers from western Jutland arranged that the children from Mjølnerparken, got access to the control tower in the harbour in Hvide Sande, and they saw how the sluice that give boats access to the harbour is controlled. The local contacts seems to be able to open sluice gates as well.

Klub 36

One thing that the volunteers were aware of, after deciding to go through with the project: it will become a challenge to get the children to sign up for the trip.

In order to avoid the classical horror of volunteer work: that no one shows up, the volunteers chose to co-operate with Klub 36, a local club in Mjølnerparken: “We chose to work with Klub 36, because they have a strong network in Mjølnerparken and a good contact with the parents of the children, there’s no doubt that the many sign-ups also can be attributed to the fact that two workers from Klub 36 took part in the trip, and that the invitations were circulated in their network”, says Kim Bach. He adds that the group of volunteers also leveraged another offer from the group, the volunteers that offer private tutoring in the private homes of the children, “hjemmelektiehjælpen”. “The benefit of our private tutoring offer is that the volunteers have a close relationship with the parents of the children, and the parents are much more inclined to permit their children to take part, if they know the people behind”, Kim Bach adds.

The strategy of the volunteers paid off. The sign-ups poured in, and the volunteers had to create a waiting-list. The only drawback of the strategy was, according to Kim Bach, that the group of children weren’t as mixed as we originally had envisioned: “We would have like to have more children of Danish ethnicity to take part in the trip, but we didn’t succeed,” Kim Bach says and adds, that the volunteers next year will do more to gather a more ethnically mixed group.

Volunteer work in rural areas

It turned out that the trip to Western Jutland did more than open the eyes of the children. The volunteers that took part in the trip, also discovered how the volunteers in rural areas work: “Through the co-operation with the group of volunteers in Ringkøbing, we discovered the great differences between volunteer integration work in different parts of Denmark. It’s my impression that the volunteers in Ringkøbing spends a lot of time doing volunteer work. “Our” volunteers don’t have that much time. On top of that the volunteers in rural areas has a much closer co-operation with the local authorities. While we were in the Western Jutland, a number of Burmese refugees arrived, to be settled in Ringkøbing. It was interesting to hear, how the authorities involve the volunteers in that task. “We don’t do things like that at all” says Kim Bach.

2 Responses to “Dansk Flygtningehjælp (The Danish Refugee Council) – Frivilligbladet (The Volunteer Post) – Interview with yours truly”

  1. James Adell Says:

    I just came across this reference to the Danish Refugee Council, and it was shocking at the irony of such a group existing. Denmark has come a long way since 1945. Ordinary Danish people only 60 years ago were the least empathic people of any in the world, having committed one of the worst atrocities against elderly or young women and children refugees in the 20th Century, specifically that 6540 refugee children died in Denmark in the first six months of 1945, most of them German refugee children under five years of age. This was all because the Danish state encouraged the nation’s doctors to refuse to treat German refugees. Even worse, everyday Danes rode their bicycles past lines of emaciated women and children who were held behind barbed wire in camps such as Oksbol, Klovermarken, and Esbjerg, looking out from hollow eyes onto the well-fed Danes who averted their eyes and refused to help as the refugees slowly starved to death.
    Perhaps the new generation of Danes has decided to make amends for the self-absorbed monsters who were their grandparents. It is good that these days it would be hard for anyone to imagine how a Dane would think of a 5 year old child as being “just a German” and undeserving of being fed.

  2. Kim Says:

    Dear Sir,

    I’m very happy that you took time to post to my blog regarding this
    disgraceful, and tabooed, chapter of Danish history.

    I’m very well aware of the history, and I thank my parents (well my
    mother to be precise) for educating me about it since I was a young
    boy.

    The Danes were on the brink of an ansluss, and we had a lot of “latter
    day saints” that suddenly were part of the resistance on may 5th, the
    danes were obviously so ashamed about their collaboration polices that
    they gathered around persecution and down-right killing of innocent
    refugees.

    History is repeating it self, with the right-wing nationalists that
    basically want’s Denmark for Danes – LOL what’s that? I’m a third
    generation immigrant on my mothers side, as is most of the “real
    danes”.

    But you know Denmark is “mostly harmless”:
    http://www.kimbach.org/2006/02/10/hitchhickers-guide-to-the-globe-denmark-mostly-harmless/

    Kind regards

    Kim Bach

    ps. I know FANTASTIC young and old people that are the MOST wonderful,
    empathic and helpful people on this planet, and they share my
    nationality, but we’re really citizens of the world.

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