People Meet! An event to welcome refugees


This is the poster we got made for our event.
I got the idea of turning Kulturelt Samråd´s logo into a globe, and to add the circle of people around the earth, Unicef style. My friend Inken  added to the idea with the stream of people joining the circle from both sides.

KS plakat Msk Mødes

Our friend Carlos, who has the Fanø company Casa Grafika, then turned our handmade sketch, into the digital result you can see. We are in Kulturelt Samråd extremely satisfied with our poster! 🙂

Kulturelt Samråd (Cultural Advisory Board) is an ngo consisting of 7 volunteers. It receives about 80.000 kroner from the local council of Fanø, and has the task of reading local applications for fundings of cultural projects and events, and to decide what to give financial support to, and how much.

The board can also itself make projects or events. That does not happen often, but last fall we decided we wanted to create an opportunity for Fanø´s population to collectively welcome our new neighbours from Syria.

Fanø has received more refugees per capita than any other place in Denmark, and we are very proud of this fact. Fanø has got several previous success stories from integrating with refugees. For instance Bosnians. So we decided to make an event called People Meet. Or Ajtmaa Aalnas in phonetic Arabic. In Danish: Mennesker Mødes.

Here is the welcome speech, in Danish first by Kulturelt Samråd´s chairwoman Hanne Jensen, then translated into English by Fanø´s bellydancer Ragnhild Kallehauge, and then into Arabic by Fanø´s Syrian citizen since December 2015, Asaad Alo:
(I will try to tell this story more with stills and video than with words).

I have a nice still as well:

KS åbningstale

The song that Aksel plays as an ending to the speech, is a very famous Danish hit that says “No matter who you are, no matter where you´re from, you are welcome here…”

Here´s the audience, listening to the opening speech:

KS lyttende publikum

After the opening speech, Ragnhild showed us some bellydancing. Which I filmed with her camera, so alas I don´t have it ready to show you here now.

After that, Syrian artist Jiger Resh (Danish spelling) played a handful songs for us. He lives in the south of Denmark now. He has played for huge audiences in Syria, (half a million people strong audiences, actually).  These days he plays gigs at festivals all around Denmark.

The party started at 2 pm, and 3 pm we opened the international cake buffet. We had asked all the international citizens of Fanoe to make something for the buffet. We are nearly 40 nationalities represented on this small island!

We offered the bakers money for their ingredients, but most of them told us to keep the money for our cultural budget instead. 29 people promised to bring a cake. But on the day of the party,  we received more than 50 cakes!!!

KS international kagebuffet msk mødes

KS kagebuffet ovenfra

KS buffeten er åben

We sold the cake for 5 kroner a piece, which is almost for free. We sold coffee and tea, and juice, cocoa and squash for the children, alsopriced at 5 kroner per item.

We could sell it this cheaply only because two of Fanoe´s grocery stores sponsored the event by giving us these drinks to sell !! The flowershop also gave us flowers to decorate the tables. Here is our bar, on which  we have written a thank you to our sponsors:
(We will also thank them in the local paper next week).

KS tak til sponsorer

Of course, we also had kind helpers in the kitchen backstage. Thank Goodness for them!!

KS frivillige i køkkenet

So the buffet opened, and so too did the lantern workshop, which was for children only.

KS lanterneworkshop

The two adults you can see here, are Inken and Ingvard. They come from two different local ngos, “De Utrolige (The Incredibles)” and “Fanø Billedskole (Fanø Picture School).

These two ngos organized this workshop inside of Kulturelt Samråd´s event. The kids were queueing to make lanterns! About 40 were created! And the event ended with a lantern parade with guitar and a simple song, from the place of the party to the town square. (I paste the video from the parade at the end of this blogpost).

KS lanterneworkshop 2

Meanwhile, in the main room next door, the local Danish people had started playing folk music, Fanø style. We have a strong, alive and kicking folk dancing tradition here on Fanø. We had invited everyone on Fanø to bring their instruments along. So it was very exciting to see how many, if any, would play, and show the dances, and how it would work,  improvizing jam session fashion. Well. Here is a still:

KS det danske jamband

And here is a short video or actually, two! 🙂

KS sønderhoning

After the Danish dancing, Jiger Resh returned to the stage. And soon the entire audience seemed to be on the dancefloor!! The atmosphere was just fantastic, everybody smiling, I was so moved.

It was such a busy Sunday on Fanø, that we had not dared hope for many visitors to the party. But 3-400 people came!! Coming, leaving, new people arriving… it was….. well… have a look here:

(I know it is long this video, but. I reckon I manage a reasonably decent edit-in-camera, by changing angles and focuspoints along the way…I couldn´t stop filming, coz the athmosphere was just so great)! 🙂

ks ringdans smil leneasaad

KS syrisk dans

KS Jiger og fuldt dansegolv

After everyone danced, a few of the Syrian men gave us a performance of an other Syrian dance:

KS fem menn viser en dans

KS jiger smiler ut til publikum

Jiger and his friend on keyboard, Ali, came from another town to join forces with us and help us with the music. As on Fanø we only have one Syrian musician so far; Nidal, on keyboard in the blue sweater to the right on stage.

In addition, we had invited two dancers from Falster Nykøbing. Malek and Hasan. Lovely guys, who really helped lift the athmosphere by contributing to the Syrian dancing.

KS de to dansere Malek Hasan

Check these 3 amazing following photos out, shot by a newspaper onshore. Jydske Vestkysten. Photographer Annett Bruhn. I don´t think they will mind me using just a couple of their many photos here, to tell the story about this voluntary culture project, where no one was paid to participate.

Look how happy people look! Both the ones dancing, and the ones in the audience. Really melts my heart to see this  joy.

MskMødes MalekRagnhildAsaad

MskMødes afrikanske børn

Here is a wonderful portrait Annett caught on camera, of my curlyhaired daughter Viola (6) and her best friend Alma:

MskMødes ViolaogAlma

Here is another lovely shot, by Kulturelt Samråd´s own photographer Mille Eggers, of her daughter Luaya Isolde and my son Linus-Ferdinand (both 4 years old this year):

KS Luaya og Linusferdinand

And allow me to include a picture also of my third child, so I don´t upset them by leaving one out. Here is my Lava, who is an 11 yearold Norwegian-Caribbean girl, who’s lived in Denmark on Fanø since age 2 and a half. She is standing by the buffet with her good friend Mathilde from her school class.

KS lava og mathilde ved buffeten

And here Fanø citizens Basaam and Asaad show us the Groove Moves in the middle of the floor…   🙂

MskMødes Bassam og Asaad

Yeah…. what a wonderful, sweet time we shared… 17:30 we gave a thank you speech. Here is the start of it: (That is me, talking English, half way into this speech)

The middle bit of the speech was sadly not filmed. This was where I told the audience about what Kulturelt Samråd is, how one can apply for funds, helped by Asaad who translated into Arabic…

Anyways. Technical camera issues prevented this to be filmed in full. But it was very important to me to grasp this opportunity to tell our new citizens about how we create events here, using the force of volutnary work, and that they are all welcome as Fanø citizens to apply for funding for any creative ideas they may have.

We are so blessed that Asaad speaks both English and Arabic, as well as Kurdi and actually pretty good Danish too, already! 🙂 It is also his hand writing we have scanned on to the project poster. We can not thank Asaad Alo enough for his help in this project.

Here is the end of the thank you speech. Where we express our gratitude to the musicians and dancers, who came and contributed to the event without getting paid for it. This time we showered them all with gift cards. Kulturelt Samråd acknowledges the importance of showing appreciation for voluntary cultural work. Without this free will of individuals to enthusiastically come together and contribute to common good, cultural life in Denmark would be both meager and dull.

Jiger Resh then also grabs the microphone, to say thank you for the event.  🙂

After this speech, we gathered in one big circle, and sang the traditional song from Fanø called “To gather and to part”, where one of the lines goes: “In the darkness of the grave is where I´d rather be, if in this world there was no such thing as friendship”…

And after that song, which is always played as the end to any good social event here on Fanø, we all joined the children and their newly made lanterns outside, and walked to the town square together:

The parade ended with cookies and juice for the kids. And then Kulturelt Samråd and the Syrian helping group, plus our two musicians and two dancer guests, returned to Strien community centre, to finish tidying up. Well, when we arrived, most of the work was already done!

So we hung out in the kitchen instead, here are some last backstage shots from this most WONDERFUL event People Meet.

Myself, Jiger Resh and Hanne Jensen, three very happy people:

ks lenejigerhanne

“Who wants to take some cake leftovers home with them…Please… Anyone…?!” That´s what I call a luxurious problem…..   🙂

ks kagerester i køkkenet backstage

I will never forget this day we shared. When Fanø welcomed its new Syrian citizens. When we met. All of us reaching out to eachother. Showing eachother our traditional music and dancing, trying the others´ ways, and tasting delicious cakes from many countries, represented in our small local community of only 3000 people.

One does truely not need words to meet. There are many universal human languages to use. Dancing and Food are two of my favourite ones.

The bottom line conclusion, I think, must be this: