EUROPE’S NEW CHALLENGES 1
Carolina Harkort Nathaniel Grann
copy editor Katie Currid
Ahmed Hayman Carolina Harkort Katie Currid Narendra Mainali Nathaniel Grann Shan Rixon Sophie Gost Theo Erbenius Virginie Nguyen Hoang
JournalisthĂ¸jskolen Olof Palmes AllĂŠ 11 8200 Aarhus N http://danishphotojournalism.com/
The photographers of this magazine come from all over the world. We have travelled Europe, delving into the lives of its people
to share their stories. In this magazine, we use words and photographs to tell our stories, but, above all, empathy.
I Am Human - Carolina Harkort
Who Wants A Danish Passport? - Sophie Gost
Toeing The Line - Shan Rixon
Letters We Long to Behold - Nathaniel Grann
The Landless - Theo Erbenius
The Hair or the Hijab - Katie Currid
Living the Normal Life - Virginie Nguyen Hoang
1000 Times Better - Narendra Mainali
Fighting Other Peopleâ€™s Wars - Ahmed Hayman
I AM HUMAN
words and photographs by Carolina Harkort
Irina and Sergej are both jobless. With HIV, itâ€™s difficult to get a job in Estonia, so they are able to spend a lot of time with Sascha.
I AM HUMAN
rina has tears in her eyes and raises her hands.
“Yes, I have HIV but I am a human being,” she says. “I changed my direction in life but I still feel that people stigmatize people like me.” But who is this women that fights every day to get accepted by our society? Irina is 28 years old. She lives with her son, Sascha, 6, and her boyfriend Sergej, 31, in Estonia in the city of Narva. It began in the east, on Russia‘s border, just after Estonia’s independence from the U.S.S.R. Many Russians used the small border traffic in order to get cheap drugs. With the spread of injection drug use came the spread of the HIV virus into the country. In Narva, made up of 65,886 inhabitants, the spread of HIV started expanding in the year 2000. Between 2001 and 2008, more than 1,600 cases of HIV were registered. Narva is a border city to Russia and is a city with high unemployment and drug addiction. Estonia has one of the highest percentage of HIV/AIDS infection in the European Union. During 2000-2001, the infection rate in Estonia increased sharply and in 2001, the HIV epidemic was declared. Irina was one of those drug-addicted people who contracted HIV through sharing needles.
Above: Irina is living with her family in a small one-room appartment. The entire family has to sleep in the same bed. Right: Irina goes to an HIV group in order to talk with other who have people the same disease.
Irina is sitting in a small, one-room apartment, the facade of her home and all the surrounding houses blending in with the typical grey sky of Narva City. Irina makes tea and dips one tea bag in all five cups, setting biscuits on a small plastic children’s table which serves as their kitchen table. Sergej is sitting with his head bowed down, looking on the floor, biting his nails. As she speaks, Irina’s eyes begin to shimmer and her voice gets shaky. “I started to take drugs when I was 12 years old. After half a year, I took everything except pills and ecstasy. In 1999, almost 90 percent of my friends took drugs. There were a group of two boys and two girls who were friends of Irina’s living in Narva. One of the girls went to the doctor to check her blood. She had HIV. Irina was really scared that she, too, might have HIV, but on the other hand she did not believe that she could have it. “It was so far away from me, like in a movie.“
Sergej stops biting nails, raises his head and looks up to her. “The first blood tests I did was negative,” Irina says. “I got more and more relaxed from blood test to blood test. The last blood test suddenly changed my whole life. It was positive.“ She fights against tears in her eyes but they start to roll down her light skin. “Before my testing, I just knew that HIV was dangerous and that you can die from it. Later, I got more information about HIV from brochures. By that time, when I knew about my status, I knew almost everything about HIV. And at that moment, I already had friends with the diagnosis.“ That was the time when Irina first went to Tatjana M., the head of the Rehabilitation Center for Alcoholics and Drug Users in Narva. The center, which opened in 1999, has the slogan, “You will not be alone.” Drug addicted people can go to the center to get clean needles and syringes.
“People who come to our center don’t have to tell us their real names,“ Tatjana says. “They just tell us the date when they where born and then every person gets a number.“ Tatjana and her team are also helping to get people off drugs. “If they are willing to change, they can start a methadone treatment.“ But that was not the time when Irina stopped taking drugs. “A life without drugs started from the moment when I recognized that I was pregnant.“ She looks to the room where her small son Sascha sits and begins to smile. “Sascha changed my life,“ she says. “ My sadness, anger and confusion about my HIV diagnosis disappeared and I tried to accept HIV as a part of me and stoped taking drugs.“ Sascha was born as a healthy child, without HIV, in 2006. Irina goes to the kitchen and takes out a small children’s cup. She dollops some marmalade into the glass, adding water and swirling it around. She returns from the kitchen, handing it to Sascha to drink. “Life is sometimes not easy and I have to take a lot of medicine to stay healthy but that is not the worst part. I don’t need much in my life. I just want to be respected as a human being. I just want to live in that society without getting a stamp on my forehead. The attitude of people must change against HIV.“
Sascha was born HIV free even though his mother is HIV positive.
Who wants a Danish passport? words and photographs by Sophie Gost
Who wants a Danish passport?
am born in Denmark,” Kartal Polat says. “Why do I have to take a test that not even half of the population would pass? I don’t want to do it.” Kartal is 29 years old and a secondgeneration immigrant without Danish citizenship. If he wants to get the Danish passport, he needs to apply for a Danish citizenship test. But he finds this patronising. Kartal was brought up in Gellerup in western Aarhus. Today, he works as a mentor for youngsters with his colleague, Mehdi Abedi. They want to make life better for the younger generation. Gellerup is well known for being one of the poorest areas in Denmark and for having a high population of immigrants. It is one of 29 residential areas in the country to be placed on a so-called ghetto list by the Danish government. To be on the list, more than 50 percent of the residents have to be immigrants, 40 percent have to be unemployed and 270 out of 10,000 residents have to have a conviction. But in another part of west Aarhus, in the multicultural community of Hasle, strong efforts to create a friendly atmosphere has successfully decreased the crime rate. Kartal’s family immigrated from Turkey during the 1970s, when an economic boom opened Denmark up to foreign labour. Kartal’s uncle was already living in Denmark when his parents left Turkey for Scandinavia. Kartal moved to Hasle from Gellerup when he was 10 years old. Unlike Gellerup, Hasle was populated mostly by Danes. At the canteen in his new school,
the “Perkers,” a derogatory slang word for immigrants, and Danes sat at different tables. He doesn’t know why. “When we played football in school, it was us five immigrants against 20 Danes, but I was just happy that I belonged to a group,” Kartal says. In his early teens, Kartal’s friends started getting in trouble with the law. He wanted to get out and left for one-year boarding school. Then, he travelled to Turkey where he felt he reached his Turkish identity for the first time. “I felt, yes I’m Turkish,” he says. But soon he understood that he was also Danish. “I am so Danish in my mind, we can’t get away from that. I am Danish.” Back home his friends were still doing criminal activities and he found it hard to resist being involved in small crimes. His life turned upside down when he was falsely accused for conspiring a murder and kept in custody for three months. He was released without charges. Kartal speaks calmly about this, saying, “I know this will sound strange, but I really miss ‘prison,’” he says of being detained. He spent 23 hours of the day in a small cell. “I had to ask the guard no matter what I wanted to do, I had to ask to wash my cloths, my face, go for a piss... everything,” he says. It made him realise how fragile life is and all that he took for granted was now taken away from him. “I couldn’t even open my own door any longer.”
Mehdi drives back to the office in Gellerup late at night. He started to work with the HotSpot team because he knows the children in the area need better role models. Mehdi helps a boy to tie his shoe during Wednesday’s boxing session in the culture centre in Hasle. Every Thursday, Mehdi and Kartal drive the children to a professional boxing club in the centre of Aarhus to expereince another environment than Hasle.
He spent this time reflecting and thinking about the future, not knowing when he would be released. “I was just thinking, I cannot do this any longer,” he says. “It is not worth it, spending your life in a cell.” Kartal decided to get educated and find a job that was more fulfilling than just working for a paycheck. Today, he is married and this summer, he will pass his last exams in college and apply for law school. “My friends ask me if I am done with my studies this summer,” he says. “I laugh and tell them, ‘Not for a long time. This is just the start.’” Kartal started his work as a mentor in Hasle, helping his childhood friend Mehdi, who is a boxing trainer. They wanted to keep children active and give them the motivation both Kartal and Mehdi felt lacked when they were growing up in the area.
Mehdi works for HotSpot, a local neighbourhood watch initiative. Together with his colleagues, they patrol the streets of west Aarhus with the purpose of creating a good environment and to make residents feel safe. Mehdi sees it as his way to interact with the children hanging out in the area, even outside of the boxing training. Mehdi came to Denmark from Iran when he was 6 years old. His brother introduced him to boxing. As a 17-year old, he won the Danish Championship in boxing, the country’s youngest contender ever to win. As a professional boxer he won national and international awards. But all his success in boxing for the nation hasn’t led to a citizenship. When he travels, he travels with his Iranian passport. He has to fulfill the same requirement as new immigrants. Mehdi thinks this is wrong. “It should be easier for us that have lived here for almost all our life,” he says.
Below: Kartal helps a child to practise his punches at Århus Amatør Boksning club. According to Kartal, a lack of stimulation can lead to crime, but through participation in organised team sports, the children will experience positive challenges and gain a sense of achievement. Right: Mehdi passes Gellerup’s housing project on a rainy night. Gellerup is one of the 29 residential areas the Danish government has put on a so-called ghetto list.
The last time Mehdi visited Iran was 2003. “I think about Iran a lot,” says Mehdi. “How it would be if I still lived there, if we hadn’t moved to Denmark. I think every immigrant wonders where you belong. Not knowing where your home is.” Denmark has been said to be the happiest place on earth. But when Kartal travels to Turkey he often ends up in debates with friends, relatives and Turkish people about the “perfect” Denmark, as they see it. But he doesn’t feel like his uncle felt as an immigrant 30 years ago. “Denmark is actually not so great,” Kartal says. “It is not so easy to live here. I’m doubting if there is a chance for me to get a job, even after my education. Actually, I’m not sure if I want to stay.”
Europe is facing stricter anti-immigration policies and leaders are willing to challenge multiculturalism as a concept. Germany´s Chancellor Angela Merkel, has declared German multiculturalism dead. To become a Danish citizen, one has to pass a strict language and knowledge test. It is said to be one of the strictest citizenship tests in Europe. Denmark has had a generation of political influence by the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DF), a party that wants to prohibit all non-Western access into Denmark. The DF’s leader, Pia Kjærsgaard says, “It is unacceptable that so many people with a non-western background are being nonproductive, not working and not contributing to positively to the Danish society. We will change that.” Denmark’s Minister of Integration, Søren Pind, sparked controversy this March when he said he preferred assimilation rather than integration for immigrants. He says immigrants should adjust to the core Danish values. “If you come to Denmark, then you come to become Danish,” he says.
Toeing the Line
words and photographs by Shan Rixon
Toeing the Line
ith over 28,000 fans on Facebook and a staggering 4 million views on YouTube, Nikoline Nielsen, with her outspoken beliefs, is allegedly the most-viewed Dane within Denmark Nikoline covers her toes in protest, insisting that the only part of her foot to be shown in the photo is the top part showing her skin and her neatly imprinted YouTube tattoo — no toes under any circumstances. Despite continual requests, she clamps her hand over the end of her foot and will not remove it until the camera has been put down, declaring in a half-serious manner that the situation has been pushed beyond her limits. This unusual display of self-consciousness from such a boisterous and opinionated young woman seems out of character and, for a brief moment, a glimpse of unexpected shyness is caught. Nikoline Nielsen, 18, with her jet-black hair extensions, tongue piercing, tattoos and unkempt appearance could be described as your typical teenager. She is a selfconfessed addict of the popular British TV sitcom “Skins,” spends several hours a day on the social networking site Facebook and loves to watch current teen pop sensations Rebecca Black and Justin Bieber on YouTube on repeat, with the sole purpose of annoying her friends because they hate them. When not out partying at the weekend, she relaxes by playing the life-simulation computer game, “The Sims,” or talking with friends on her iPhone. The youngest of seven siblings, with the next eldest 18 years older than her, she lives with her parents in the town of Silkeborg, 40 km west of Aarhus, Denmark. After dropping out of school a year ago, she is currently waiting to find out if she has been accepted on to a graphic design course in the nearby town of Herning, starting this September. But she’s not just like any other teenager. Nikoline has been an active member of the Danish right-wing political party, Dansk Folkeparti (Danish People’s Party), or the DF, since she was 15. Always one to enjoy a debate and with the desire to influence society, she looked for a party that matched her beliefs. While not part of the government, the DF maintains a close cooperation with the coalition on most issues, in return for support for its political stances. The third largest political party in Denmark, they lobby for anti-immigration, anti-multiculturalism and anti-Islam policies, promoting assimilation before integration. “We’ve had integration for 40 years and it hasn’t worked,” Nikoline says. “People need to be like us, act like us, be a part of society rather than make these parallel societies around the country.” She wants people living in Denmark to act Danish. “You can have your own culture at home,” she says. “But when you go out in society, you need to be part of the group, learn to speak Danish ��� if you want to have a job, you need to take that headscarf off.”
However, it is not Nikoline’s DF membership that made her famous — it was a bet.
Funny, trashy, annoying – whatever you think of it, her most watched video, “Farmville Song”, dedicated to the popular Facebook game currently has over 680,000 hits.
“I made a bet with a friend that anyone can become famous and build a personality up,” she says. “He bet me a case of beer I couldn’t get famous within a year. That was in the summer of 2009 — after six months, I was in all the newspapers.”
On a more controversial note, in January 2010 she showed her support for Danish Mohammed cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard, by uploading a love song dedicated to him.
Armed with a Mickey Mouse voice, silly costumes and cheesy dance moves superimposed onto low-graphic backgrounds, Nikoline rewrites the lyrics to well-known pop songs and sings them back in a kitsch karaoke style.
Westergaard’s controversial cartoon depicted the prophet Mohammed wearing a bomb in his turban and was published in the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, in 2005, sending the Islamic world into an uproar.
From left to right: While out socialising with friends at Baboon City in Herning, Nikoline pours a beer over her nephew Jakob’s head. She is the youngest of seven children and, as a result of this, her nephew is three years older than her. Nikoline plays with her dog, Pow, at home. She loves animals and in an ideal Denmark, she would create an animal police force to improve their welfare.
“People need to be like us, act like us...if you want to have a job, you need to take that headscarf off ” 25
Fom left to right: Smoking a cigarette, Nikoline checks out the latest music videos on YouTube. She spends several hours a day logged onto Facebook and loves to play the life-simulation computer game, â€œThe Sims.â€? Nikoline puts on her make-up in the morning after a night out partying. She enjoys going out every weekend with friends in either Silkeborg or Aarhus.
In Nikoline’s video, she sings her support for him to the tune of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” It became an instant viral hit with lyrics such as, “I love your cartoon, I love your beard, can live with the threats as long as you’re near/I want your fame and all your police, even though the Middle East don’t give you peace.” Her latest political parody, “Du En Terrorist,” showed her dressed up as a stereotypical ‘extremist,’ telling those responsible for the attempted suicide bombing in Copenhagen in September 2010 to “go to hell.” It was recently banned by YouTube, though Nikoline asserts it was not offensive. Nikoline confesses she loves to provoke. “If I sit beside a guy and I fart, I love to see his reaction,” she says. “That’s the best part.” Nikoline has already shadowed DF healthcare spokesperson Liselott Blixt and met Member of European
Parliament Morten Messerschmidt, a rising star of the DF. She was also voted Politician of the Month in November 2010. Although she doesn’t have firm plans to go into politics full time, she has not ruled it out and believes she appeals to the youth of today. “I drink cola and watch ‘High School Musical,’” she says. Is Nikoline the future of Danish politics? She unquestionably thinks so. With a rise in popularity of the far right across Northern Europe, all eyes will be on Denmark in the upcoming months, with the Danish general election due to be held before November 2011. Perhaps Nikoline is having the last laugh, as stated on her Facebook fan page: “Enjoy it, hate it, laugh about it — but you will certainly have an opinion about it.”
Letters We Long to Behold
words and photographs by Nathaniel Grann
Letters We Long to Behold
he sound of sizzling homemade meatballs make it hard to hear Malu Samuelsen, 25, a native born Greenlander who moved to Denmark at a young age, as she explains the difference between Swedish and Danish meatballs. Her one-year old son, Loke Samuel Fredriksen, sits a top a counter as Samuelsen’s boyfriend and Loke’s father, Jesper Frederiksen, stands at attention incase he should decide to jump. “We have pork in everything here, it’s just how the Danes do it,” Samuelsen says as she put the finishing touches on that evenings dinner. “In Greenland, they eat the freshest fish, so it makes it hard to eat fish here when it’s just not as good.” Samuelsen, while proud of her Greenlandic heritage, relates more to the Danish culture where she grew up. It is the small reminders throughout their apartment like Samuelsen’s bright red first-day-of-school outfit with a multicolored beaded collar that hangs in the couples bedroom or a poster of Greenland in Loke’s bedroom that hint to her Greenlandic heritage. It is something that goes beyond her appearance.
Openeing: Malu Samuelsen holds a picture of her grandmother, left, Marie Maren Gertrude Petrine Samuelsen and her mother, right, Louise Dhorte Juliane Samuelsen, taken back in Greenland. “My name is very similar to theirs,” Samelsen says. “It’s like they just combined the two and got Malu.” Previous page: Samuelsen’s first day of school outfit hangs within the couple’s bedroom in their apartment in Aarhus, Denmark. Small childhood memories of Samuelsen’s Greenlandic heritage are riddled through out the apartment.
“I’m not even that Greenlandic when you compare me to others but it’s what people see in me,” says Samuelsen. “If I drink too much or party a little too hard, it’s always because I’m a Greenlander. I would never really refer to myself as a Greenlander but it’s quite easy for others to do so. When I was in school, people would say, The Greenlander, and they’d be talking about me. It’s just how it was. I think I was the only Greenlander in the school.” Even as the modernization of Greenland takes place, common stereotypes towards alcoholism and misperceptions of how a Greenlander typically looks blights the community throughout Denmark. “People just expect me to act a certain way because they see me as a Kalaallit (of Inuit heritage), so if I’m not drunk by noon it’s a miracle and if I have a drink with my friends, I’m an alcoholic.” says Niels Skifte, a native Greenlander who moved to Denmark to complete his studies in 2003. The relationship between Denmark and Greenland has shifted in a dramatic fashion over the past five years. With the passing of judicial affairs, policing and natural resources to a self-governing Greenlandic parliamentary in 2009, Greenland experienced its first steps toward full national sovereignty. With these changes a new sense of national identity swept over Greenlanders.
Left to right: Samuelsen poses within her bedroom. Celina’s bar, located on Nørre Alle in Aarhus, Denmark, has a reputation as being the ‘Greenlander’ bar. Because alcoholism, is a prevalent issue within the Greenlander community, is also a common stereotype many Greenlanders face. Samuelsen prepares Danish meatballs as Frederiksen stands below Loke, perched above the two on a kitchen cabinet. “We never eat Greenlandic food really, only if you’re in Greenland because otherwise it’s just not as good,” Samuelsen says.
Left to right: Samuelsen buttons her coat as Loke reaches for the Danish national flag in the lobby of their apartment. The flags were leftover from Lokeâ€™s birthday party. Samuelsen and Frederiksen embrace as he holds Loke after coming home from the university.
Following the referendum of 2009, Greenlanders became recognized as a separate culture and people under international law. Following a 2010 study committed by the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), 98 percent of people between 18-25 years of age in Greenland registered as Greenlandic when given the opportunity, while only one in seven did so while living in Denmark. This is quite contrasted by the results seen within the older age groups, experiencing almost a 100 percent Greenlandic registration when given the opportunity, regardless of location. Even with these transitions, a split between cultural identity and heritage has taken place amongst Greenlanders who now live in Denmark or have mixed heritage between Denmark and Greenland. It is a shift that many younger genera-
tions appear to have become accustomed to and integrated within, while older generations struggle to maintain a cultural identity as they believe their culture is being lost within Danish society. “I wish I could speak Greenlandic at times,” Samuelsen says. “I have family back in Greenland that I can’t talk to because we can’t communicate to one another. They don’t believe that I’ve forgotten it. How could I forget a language?” The smell of meatballs has successfully filled Samuelsen’s apartment as her family sits down for dinner. Loke, wearing a bright green poncho to insure the cleanest possible outcome in the never-ending battle that is eating, lets out a squeal of delight as his mother places the food down.
words and photographs by Theo Erbenius
The Landless The fire is spreading its light across the caravan site and the heavy smoke carries a smell of burning plastic mixed with chemicals. This is not a fire burning for pleasure, but out of necessity. Around it are tons of empty cable shells, old clothes mixed with pieces of metal and other junk waiting their turn to be fed in to the mouth of the fire.
In a way, she is a bit like a mom for the group and says that the boys can be so irresponsible sometimes when they go to bed without having some amphetamine at home for the morning fix. The site is usually full of activity night and day. “We are all living here to take our drugs without bother or be bothered by the normal society,” says Anders.
Spreading out around the “furnace” is an area roughly around 50 x 30 meters where there are 15 old parked campers. In eight of them, people are living, the other ones either used as storage houses or are just empty because their owners moved out or are in jail.
Anders is around fifty and says that he has crashed into society so many times that he has given up trying being apart of it. He was born with ADHD and is always active.
Welcome to another part of Sweden.
As a kid, his hyperactive behaviour was wrongly understood and he soon became the town’s scapegoat for all sorts of bad things happening. Anders discovered that when taking amphetamine, he could finally relax at least enough so he could eat and sleep.
“The first time I took amphetamine I was 17 years old,” says Pia, a middle aged woman living in one of the caravans. “You might expect that I came from a family filled with problems but that was not the case. My parents were nice people, but I was a very shy girl with a weight problem that hardly dared to speak with anyone.”
The last three years, Anders has lived in a caravan. But before that, he lived in different cars for around 10 years, sleeping in the back seat.
The first time Pia tried amphetamine was a very positive experience. She felt alive and so full of confidence that she even could joke with the cool kids. She started to use it on a regular basis and the fact that it made her lose weight made the whole thing feel even better.
The most important thing in the winter, he says, is that that the car has a good heating system. He once slept without a heating system in minus 27 degrees Celcius. Anders survived by sleeping in all of his clothes, under all of his possessions. Only his face was out in the open and it was numb in the morning.
She has now been taking amphetamine for 30 years and, since a couple of years ago, has been living in a stolen caravan without license plates with the rest of the group.
Clockwise from left: A dog widens its jaw to get a hold of a tree limb. The dog belongs to a woman who does not live at the camp, but accidentally mixed up the drugs she was selling there. If that dose would have been injected, it could have killed an elephant. Pia has been living at the camp for a few years. She voluntarily lives at the camp because of the easy access to drugs and enjoys the people that live there. Åke visits Pia’s caravan for a chat. They have both been living in this camp for a year. Both have been evicted many times because it is illegal to occupy land they don’t own and the campers often cause crime problems in places they move to.
Clockwise from left: Anders has been homeless for decades now. He prefers to live in societies like his camp because he never felt he was accepted by “normal” society because of his ADHD. Anders controls a trash fire in the camp. Oftentimes, the police come and complain about the piles of trash. This is the only way to get rid of their rubbish, however, because Sweden’s waste management will not pick it up.
The other members of the gang include Bosse, Janne, Dennis, Titti, Åke, Linda and Adreas. They are in-between 34 and 60 years old and all have their amphetamine addiction and living conditions in common. To finance their abuse, members of the group mostly steal electrical wires during the night and then bring them back to the camp. To increase the value of the cable, they peel off the shell and then sell the raw copper to various junkyards. The average price for one kilo is 47 Swedish krones, but usually they get less because the copper is stolen and therefore not legal to sell. Pia says that some years ago, there was paper sent around among the junkyards that informed the workers there how to spot junkies. The reason for this was to minimize the trade in stolen copper. The paper described them as toothless people with dirty hands that drove crappy cars with broken exhaust pipes. Pia laughs how they are described and says that the worst part of it is that it true. “Look my hands,” she says. “They are all dirty. Look my teeth — they are almost gone.” The group considers themselves landless than homeless. Anders says he dreams about to have a small piece of land where he could just park his caravan and live without the eternal evictions to which they are now exposed. At least once a year the police come and drive them away. The reasons for this are many but usually it is because they don’t own the land where they park the caravans, because of the amount of garbage that builds up and due to the increase of crime in the areas where they settle down. 40
Where they live now, the crime rate has increased at least 80 percent during the year they have been there. The group never steals where they live to increase the possibility to stay longer, but their friends that visit are not in their home area and often combine a visit with some theft. The garbage situation is often discussed and all want it to be different. The problem is that the municipality doesn’t collect their garbage because they live outside of the society and the junkyards don’t accept it because it not sorted. If there is too much garbage, they usually get evicted, so they end up end up burning the toxic leftovers themselves. Pia says that because of the dirt and the drugs there are a lot of prejudices towards people like them. “People think that we are dangerous,” she says. “But we are not. We are actually kind people with big hearts.” Pia continues to describe how this has lead to the fact that she rarely visits the city center because of the shame a random encounter with an old work friend could generate. So, she spends most of here time around her camper van where she feels more at home. Like most people, she enjoys taking care of where she lives and make it beautiful. This night she sweeps the front porch to make it more welcoming. The time is 3 a.m. and she has just a headlight to guide her broom. Life continues and almost no one goes to sleep. A new day is dawning while she slowly but steadily continues with her everyday chores.
Ă…ke and Dennis load a vehicle with copper they have stolen. They will travel to the junk yard to sell it, which is how they make their living. Ă…ke peels copper cable to increase its value. The campers steal copper to make money. Next page: Dennis is the oldest man in the camp. Dennis has pieced of metal in his foot that impair his walking, he refuses to see a doctor.
The Hair or the Hijab words and photographs by Katie Currid
The Hair or the Hijab
n the ladies room, girls crowd around the mirror, adjusting themselves to make sure they are presentable to the world. Although in many primary schools girls may be fixing their hair, at Lykkeskolen most are fixing their hijabs.
Lykkeskolen, which translates into English as “happy school,” is located inside Bazar Vest, a mall of aggregated fruit markets, boutiques, butchers and food shops that serve as the epicenter of ethnic culture in Aarhus, Denmark. The school is an Arab school where children come to learn basics like geography, Danish, math and chemistry but also study Arabic and the Qur’an. The girls in the seventh grade class at the school are approaching an important milestone in their lives as women and as Muslims. Around the ages of 14 and 15, most female Muslims will decide whether or not to take the hijab, as the Qur’an suggests. The hijab is a scarf that covers the hair, but hijab also comes with a certain dress code that requests loose-fitting clothing and little skin revealed. Almost all of the girls in Lykkeskolen’s seventh grade have taken the hijab. The hijab is just as telling about a girl as their hair would be — they are fashioned in different colours, styles and almost all wear them differently. Some have rhinestone embellishments, some are adorned with bow clips, but all
show off their personalities. “I like to take care of myself whether I’m in school or out of school,” says Sara S., 13. Sara has not yet taken the hijab. “Looking good isn’t something you just do for outside eyes — it’s also something you do for yourself.” There are only four girls in the class — 15 percent of the classroom — who do not wear the veil. But as Muslims, they must make this decision, even though some outsiders may not understand why. They are excited to wear the veil and see it as something to be proud of. “When I used to watch my sister wear the veil every day, I would feel envious and think, ‘I wish I could do that,’” says Alaa O., 13. Alaa O. wears the veil and has done so since she was 10 years old. “Many of my classmates were already veiled and since I figured that whether I’m young or old I will wear it, why not go ahead and do it now.” Sara and Hallal A., 13, are two of the four girls who do not wear the hijab but plan to become veiled very soon. Both will take the hijab and say it is because they wish to, not because their parents want them to. Sara and Hallal both plan to wear the hijab during the next Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. Ramadan will occur in August this year and lasts 30 days.
Clockwise from left: Alaa O., Hallal A., Alaa E. and Sara S. look to physics teacher Chawke Zeid for directions on a project in class at Lykkeskolen in Aarhus, Denmark. The hearts on the wall are leftover decorations from an Eidparty, Eid meaning feast in Arabic. Although some of the girls wear the veil and others do not, they do not feel that any one of them is treated any different based on this symbol of Islam. Sara S. walks into a classroom to meet her friends during school. Sara does not wear the veil but plans to take it during the next Ramadan. Muslims wishing to begin wearing the hijab typically start on Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, because it is a time period when Muslims feel their faith the most. Alaa E. mimics her physics teacher, Chawke Zeid, during class at Lykkeskolen. Although Alaa E. and many of her friends wear the veil, they are not lacking in personality or how outgoing they are.
“There isn’t any difference between me and the others because everyone has the right to make their personal choice,” says Hallal. “Whether or not I’m veiled, they treat me as a friend.” The girls state that although they did not feel different after they began to wear the hijab, they will be representing Islam since the hijab is a symbol of being a Muslim. They say it requires a certain type of modest demeanor. Islam has seen ongoing conflicts in Denmark. Many immigrant areas, made up largely of Arabs, have been labeled ghettos; Søren Pind, Danish Minister for Refugees, Immigrants and Integration, wants Danish immigrants to not just integrate, but assimilate to typical Danish culture; and of course there are the infamous Mohammed cartoons, printed in the Jutland newspaper, Jyllands-Posten.
their mothers suggested they wait a while. None of them wish they had waited longer to wear the hijab, however. “I took it in the second grade,” says Alaa E., 13. “It’s beautiful. I am free. People say good things about the hijab so women want to take it.” This freedom may come as a contradiction to non-Muslim women, who may see the hijab as a cover, not an expression of oneself. However, all the Lykkeskolen girls agree that it allows the world to see them as who they are on the inside and not just for their attractiveness. None feel stifled by the veil. “I was very excited to take it on,” says a substitute teacher at Lykkeskolen, who asked to remain unnamed. “The big girls wear the hijab, just like the big girls wear make-up.”
Some Western countries have taken stances on Muslim veils. Riots and protests broke out in France recently due to bans on the niqab and burka. But regardless of what happens outside their world, the girls cannot wait to wear the hijab.
The girls wish all women could have the power the hijab gives to them — the powers of pride of their community and the ability to be seen for their thoughts and personalities, not just the way they look. They hope to spread understanding of the hijab and how much they love to wear it.
Many of the girls are very eager to take on the hijab and have done so of their own accord. Some of the girls decided to wear it at younger ages, such as 8 years old, and
“We know who we are and we know where we’re from,” Sara says. “So no matter what they say, it won’t affect the way we see ourselves and our community.”
Clockwise from left: Sara S.’s hair drapes over the Qur’an as the students read surahs during class. Surahs are prayer readings of Qur’an passages that sound very musical when read aloud. Alaa E. drapes a different hijab over her head in the girls’ bathroom at school. Alaa E. changed from her leopard hijab to a more neutral color before having her class where the students study the Qur’an and Arabic. Hallal A. inspects a can of hairspray while Sara S. adjusts her ponytail during a “girls’ day” in the sixth grade classroom. The girls’ day allowed the girls to act like they were in a salon and pamper each other. It featured yoghurt masks, hair curling and vast amounts of make-up.
â€œThe big girls wear the hijab, just like the big girls wear make-upâ€?
From left to right: Hallal A.â€™s hair hangs over Doaa A.â€™s face as she stands on top of the stairs outside her classroom. Lykkeskolen is connected to Bazar Vest, an ethnic-oriented food market that brings together different vendors that sell Hallal meats and specialize in Middle Eastern foods. Sara S. and Alaa E. play football in the schoolyard in Aarhus, Denmark. The girls play football almost every day during their breaks between classes and were especially excited to be outside this day because it was unseasonably warm.
“I live openly with my HIV, I don’t hide away and I certainly don’t feel ashamed”
Living the Normal Life words and photographs by Virginie Nguyen Hoang
Living The Normal Life
alking through Aarhus train Station, Steffan Schjødt is looking for something to eat before going to the Aarhus University Hospital, Skejby. Tall, blonde and thin, nothing about him would reveal that he is not going to the hospital for an ordinary check up but well for a blood test related to his HIV. “I just have to go there twice a year in order to check if everything is fine with my treatment and to get the necessary medicines for six months.” Steffan says. At the hospital, he sits in the waiting room and feels totally
comfortable to be there without any fear of meeting someone he knows. Unfortunately, this is not tnot the case for all young HIV positive individuals. Many feel ashamed and have the impression that if somebody from their surrounding knows about it, they will reject them. Then start a circle of lies of a continuous fear that someone knows the truth. This ceaseless stress leads often to the state of depression and isolation. Time to tell the truth In 2007, Steffan was 21 years old when he was infected to HIV because of a burst
Every day, Steffan has to take his medicines at the same hour.
Steffan comes from the city of Silkeborg, situated 40 km from Aarhus.
condom. At this time, his previous boyfriend didn’t know that he was HIV positive. On year later, he was diagnosed positive after a blood test. “When the doctor told me that I was HIV positive I said to him it’s not my test, but deep inside I knew that it was mine indeed. He looked at me and told me that it of course was my test. Then I told him “but it isn’t death sentence”anymore and he agreed. Of course, I was a kind of sad to know that I was HIV because I knew that there is a lot of stigma about it and that I will have to handle with that.” After he was diagnosed he directly
went to Skejby Hospital in order to talk with a doctor, a nurse and HIV adviser, Tinne Laursen. “On the way to Aarhus I was thinking to myself that I would never get a boyfriend....none would have a HIV positive boyfriend”. Steffan says At the hospital, the doctors keep telling him that he can have normal life even he was HIV posititve. “They just repeated the same phrases again and again but at this time I was unpresent, just thinking how to tell my family and friends. I was sure that my grandmother wouldn’t have a problem with me being HIV positive but I also knew that she
Steffan’s boyfriend is from Sweden and works as a flight attendant. Each time he has some days off, he goes to Steffan’s place. They both get along with the family of the other without hiding the truth.
Steffan visits often his grand parents who live close to his place.
on a lie before I came out of the closet as gay and It was terrible and I would never live like that again”. One year after, Steffan his boyfriend. They two been together for almost three years now without any fair of having a sex relation. “I told him almost straight away I’ve met him but he didn’t really mind and wanted to keep the relation”. The use of the condoms is important but if in case of one bursting, the treatment that Steffan takes makes sure he doesnt transmit the disease as his level of HIV is very low.
for me, that I wouldn’t get a boyfriend and that I might get a harder life than others” Steffan told directly to his family that he was HIV positive before telling it, two days after, to his friends. “ They asked me straight away when are you going to die? I was amazed and shocked that they didn’t know basically anything about HIV. I thought if they don’t know anything about HIV they would soon turn their back on me and I felt lump in my throat. But they didn’t. I told them that I’ll live just as long as other people. Since then I decided that I’d live openly with my illness. I’ve lived my life 56
“Actually, I can say that the only thing that has changed in my life is that I’ve got to remember to take my medicines everyday around the same hour” Stereotypes “Some people get the idea that an HIV positive person looks probably ill, that they can be infested while drinking in the same glass or while using same toilet, that they are dangerous and insane person who had unsafe sex all the time”. Steffan says. Because of the stereotypes and the stigmatisation young people keep their disease as a secret, according to Tinne Laursen, the HIV adviser from the Aarhus University Hospital. She says HIV leads lot of young people to isolation. She said that having no one to talk about HIV may have big psychological consequences. Since he was diagnosed, Steffan has
Above: Since he knows that he’s HIV positive, Steffan hasn’t change his lifestyle or his habits.
taken part of the Group of Young HIV positive, an organization which helps young people affected by HIV. They organise special weekend and activities in order to create an atmosphere where they feel totally comfortable and where they can freely talk about their disease and the problems related to it. In January, Steffan started doing lectures in school about HIV “I’m really glad I’m doing that. Knowledge is the only way to break down prejudice, stigma and taboos”.
On the next page: On retirement because of a back injury, Steffan enjoys his life without any kind of fear related to HIV. In Silkeborg, he likes to walk around the lakes, discovering the nature and enjoying the sun when it comes out.
â€˜1000 times betterâ€™ words and photographs by Narendra Mainali
They lived for almost 20 years with uncertain hopes in the temporary camps in the hot and humid plains of eastern Nepal, deprived of the basic living conditions. But the Bhutanese refugees now enjoy the amenities of modern apartments with European standard of life. However, it is not the novelty of life in Europe they are happy about â€” itâ€™s the first time in ages that they are being treated with respect. 61
Padam is fond of wearing the Dhaka Topi, a traditional Nepalese cap. “Because I can’t speak in Danish, this cap helps me to connect with other Nepalese staying here, mostly the students,” he says. “I can speak with them and now we are a community.”
‘1000 times better’
had never imagined that I would spend my old days in this part of the world, learning new language and skills,” says Padam Khadka, breathing a sigh of relief. He is one among several resettled families in Denmark. “No doubt we waited so long in despair, wanting to go to our homeland Bhutan, but we had no options left than to opt for a third country relocation,” he says. In the 1980s the Kingdom of Bhutan took a series of measures that discriminated against Lhotshampas, one of Bhutan’s three main ethnic groups. It resulted in their mass exile in the early 1990s. Since 1991, over one sixth of the people of Bhutan have sought asylum in the seven camps in eastern Nepal. According to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, the physical, social and emotional costs of living in the temporary camps with uncertain futures were too high. Under the supervision of UNHCR, about 108,000 Bhutanese refugees were waiting for the sustainable resolution but the wait could not be indefinite. Denmark is a part of the Core Working Group on Bhutanese Refugees and since 2008, the resettlement process has seen thousands of Bhutanese refugees being relocated abroad, making it the largest resettlement program in the world. Denmark has received more than 350 refugees, and has committed to accepting up to 150 Bhutanese refugees from Nepal annually over the next few years. Padam and his wife, Bishnu Maya Khadka, who arrived in Denmark 18 months ago from Beldangi 2 Camp, live in a small apartment in Viborg. Recalling the initial days of his arrival in Denmark, Padam erupts in laughter, as everything was a unique experience he ever had in his life. Compared to those of Bhutan and Nepal, the streets here were quiet and empty with very few vehicles as if it were a strike. Though they received the orientation before arriving, the language was a main barrier. But a selfdetermined Padam never hesitated to ask people whenever he was in any trouble. He still continues to draw the pictures of what he wants to buy or shows his CPR to find his address if he gets lost.
When the clock strikes 4 p.m., its the time for the Khadka family to call back to friends and relatives in Nepal and Bhutan.
Padam is accompanied in Denmark by three sons and their families. But he is always concerned about a son and a daughter who were left behind when they fled their home in Danabari, Bhutan. Bishnu often expresses her sorrow of separation from her families and friends. “We are thankful for everything we have. The main worry is about the relatives we left behind,” she says in a frail voice, trying hard to restrain her tears that tend to burst out.
From left to right: Padam goes to special education to learn the Danish language. They are learning the basic survival skills.
Though they have no regrets of leaving the camp, rebuilding life in a new foreign country hasn’t been without the challenges either. They barely read and write and can’t speak English. It’s tough to communicate with their teachers who help them to learn the basic Danish language.
Padam’s son, Chudamani, lives close to him in Viborg so he can be with his family almost daily. Family is very important to Padam, and it hurts him that they left loved ones behind in Bhutan. Bishnu was very ill a few weeks ago and belives that if she still lived in the camps in Nepal, she would have died from lack of proper health care.
A piece of paper hanging on the walls provides various information to the Khadka family, such as important dates, different television channels and numbers from relatives living in other countries.
The Khadka family attends special education classes and occasionally they have the cooking lessons, which allows them to interact with immigrants from other countries. They alternate cooking cuisine from everyone’s cultures and they all get involved.
Their skills are limited - it’s tough for them to get work. But they are trying hard to learn the basic survival skills and have accepted to face the challenges for the sake of the future of their kids. Padam and Bishnu start their day worshipping in the prayer room filled with pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses. They pray that the whole family will soon be reunited. The major thing missing in their daily life is a Hindu priest to perform ritual ceremonies - otherwise, they say, “It’s 1,000 times better. There’s no comparison.”
The family plays the same episode of â€œMahabharat,â€? a popular Hindu epic, time and again throughout the day on a television set that is as old as they are.
Fighting Other Peopleâ€™s Wars words and photographs by Ahmed Hayman
“My dream now is everyman’s dream — having a family myself, have children, enjoy life. I’ll tell my kids enough stories to make them feel it’s good to join the Army,” Andreas says. 70
Soldiers meet every day at 7 in the morning, talking with each other, cleaning their shoes and waiting for their morning meeting with their boss to know the day´s plan.
Fighting Other People’s Wars
A.M.: The sweet smell of rain showers fill the air in a harmony with the surrounding nature, hearing drops of water on my sleeping bag. I’m an Egyptian Muslim and I’m spending the night in the forest with the Danish Army. “Sleeping in the forest when it’s cold reminds me of Afghanistan when we were sleeping in desert,” says Andreas, a Danish Soldier in the Tactical Air Controlling Party Unit (TACP). “It was really cold — it was the coldest thing I’ve experienced.” Andreas doesn’t want his full name to be known because of his position in
the army, just like his fellow soldiers. “Everyone in the team basically has to learn everything or at least have an understanding about it because we are only four people in each team,” he says. “If one man goes down, the other has to be able to take his work. We are not like a normal infantry, we are a very specialized team — there are not many of us. Nearly 50 persons of us in the whole country can do what we do. It happened that two guys went down in Afghanistan and we were only two left so we had to do four man’s job and it worked out fine. We have to be as good as we can be in everything ”
In October 2001, The War in Afghanistan began as the U.S. Armed Forces launched Operation Enduring Freedom. Two months later, The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was established by the UN Security Council to secure Kabul and the surrounding areas from the Taliban, linked to al Qaeda. Their aim was also to allow the establishment of the Afghan Transitional Administration, headed by Hamid Karzai who won the 2004 elections as a president of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Denmark has been a part of ISAF since 2002 and had the largest number of casualties in respect to the country’s population — it currently has about 750 soldiers in Afghanistan.
Many questions were running in my head — Why are they fighting other people’s wars and risking their lives for other people? Andreas went twice to Afghanistan and once to Kosovo. When he was a little child he was dreaming of becoming a soldier and to be in international missions just like his father. “Now I’m living my dream,” he says. “The second time when I went to Afghanistan I experienced the difference
we made, Stores were opened and people have started to accept us. We can make a difference and I’m good at what I’m doing so I must share it with people. It just makes sense to me to give the people there a future. They need to have a chance to have a proper life especially the next generation.” “I’m trying not to be selfish and this is the reason why I’m risking my life for others. That’s my role in life, everyone that can do something for the poor people must do it ”
Andreas did not join the army to make friends, but wants to be professional on the job. He still sees himself as a team player with team spirit, but separates his work life with his personal life.
Soldiers use many types of equipment to determine how far a target is away from them — using GPS to find someone’s location, reading maps, using compasses and utilizing different kinds of binoculars with laser range finders.
A cloudy day in the forest after finishing the training, soldiers sit around the fire to have their dinner. At 10 p.m., Soldiers starting to get ready to sleep in their sleeping bags.
to move back to the main unit after sleeping out all night out. “Of course, you’ll ask me why the hell we are going to Afghanistan,” Lieutenant COB says to me. “I think it’s a big challenge, especially for Denmark because now we are one of the top armies that participate in the war. Also, it’s challenging on a personal level, leaving your family. I thought about it especially when I got injured last mission in Afghanistan”
I have to pray before sleeping, after finishing one of the soldiers is curious. “You are coming to ask us questions but now it’s our time to ask you,” he says. “Why are you praying?” someone asks.
He was injured by an RPG that was fired on their vehicle and was sent back to a hospital in Denmark. “Even though I was injured, I’m going to Afghanistan again,” the lieutenant says.
And they started asking me more questions about my religion. I answered a lot of questions. They weren’t against me or with me — they were neutral. They wanted to hear my point of view, I think it’s also because of Afghanistan and dealing with Muslims there.
“I’m very good at what I’m doing and I’ll keep helping people.” His colleague thinks that it’s harder for the families than for the soldiers.
At 7 a.m., everyone is getting ready
“My wife hates that I travel to Afghanistan but that’s my job and I’m proud of it. It is about giving the chance to people to have a voice,” Staff Sergeant MAS says. “One day when the government is settled and everything is OK, hopefully they will say Denmark was one of the reasons that we reached that point.” “We don’t go around killing people. Basically in Afghanistan we are protecting people and helping in the training process to the others. “But if someone shoots at a Danish soldier we will always shoot back,” Andreas says.
There is no difference between night and day with the night vision laser range finder. It has a compass built inside so the soldiers can connect it to their GPS, then click on the area to get the distance, angle and get that data to deliver it to their aircrafts.
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