Open letter from a mother in Sjælsmark
This letter was delivered as a speech at a demonstration for better conditions for children in deportation camp Sjælsmark on December 4, 2018.
By Eden Girma, mother and rejected asylum seeker
Hello everyone good morning.
Thanks for coming to support us, and to all different organizations who have joined to organize this demonstration I would like to say thanks.
First of all, no matter how we are still suffering in Denmark. Our hope did not die yet and we will continue our fight for our right to get protection and residency in Denmark.
Our question is, what have we done? What fault do we have to be jailed in Sjælsmark prison? Have we committed any crime in Denmark?
Our asylum case is rejected. Is that a crime?
Why are we kept by prison guards? Why must our kids cry? Why are our children scared by the everyday life in Sjælsmark? We have a right to seek asylum in Denmark and we also have the right to live a normal life until solutions are found for our cases.
This is Denmark not USA. This is Denmark where human rights should be respected. Denmark should not be inspired by Trump policies by making children prisoners. We believed Denmark to be one of the most powerful protector of especially children rights. We believed our children would have the right to education and health care in Denmark.
But we are not excited with the Danish society any more. We are kept in isolated prisons like Sjælmark and most Danish people are afraid of us because the government presents us as criminals. Do you think this is a best solution, no it's not. We are parents and we carry a big responsibility for our children. We want them to have a better life, safety, health care and good education.
We are fighting for the future of our children and we resist any attempt to force us back to our home countries because our lives are in danger there. No one runs away from home without a reason. We are here to escape danger and find safety. None of us one chose to die on his or her journey to Europe but that decision to die comes when we are no longer fighting our bad government or decide to follow the rules of the dictators.
Please listen to our voices. We do not want our loved children crying every day because of the horrible living conditions. Our children are asking, why are we living here? Asking, what shall we eat? We, parents have no answers but to cry also ourselves. We don't want our kids to suffer any more.
Fix the problem! Shut down Sjælsmark! Fix the problem! Shut down Sjælsmark! Fix the problem! Shut down Sjælsmark! Fix the problem! Shut down Sjælsmark!
Professional legal counseling equips refugees with the means to navigate and participate in the Danish society. Some are dealing with asylum rejections, while others are unaware of their rights to maternity leave. Across a diversity of situations, Asrin Mesbah offers legal advice on a daily basis, in the safe environment of Trampoline House.
At Trampoline House, job training isn’t just job training. Trampoline House provides a safe space for social engagement and the consideration of individual needs. This is highly valued by the job training agency Servisio, which since April 2019 has directed citizens to Trampoline House.
50 of around 60 families in deportation center Sjælsmark have written an open letter to Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Minister for Immigration & Integration Mattias Tesfaye. In the letter, they reject a Sjælsmark employee’s claim that most them want to stay in Sjælsmark. “It is indefensible and unethical to put words in our mouth,” they write.
“My daughter worries a lot about being deported. By investing in my education, I can help her dare to believe in a future in Denmark. And it’s good for me to take my dream education.”
“This is a life experience that I would recommend to anyone just because it teaches you so much; staying at Trampoline House is a nice experience and you get to learn a lot. Personal change and achievement, lessons for you and your life; it’s not just like any other internship that you get to do in other NGOs or organisations.”
Trampoline House offers free Danish classes for asylum seekers, refugees or other citizens who want to learn the Danish language and culture. Everyone is welcome.
New course on entrepreneurship makes it easier for refugees and asylum seekers to find a job or start their own business.
“I come to Trampoline House to learn Danish and to learn about the Danish society, so I can build my life. If you can learn it, it means you can do it.”
Trampoline House has seen a lot of reconstruction since last summer, improving the space for children’s activities, socializing in the café and focused work.
“All in all, it is giving a space for the groups of individuals which both Denmark and Copenhagen is actively trying to phase out via oppressive economic, social, and immigration policies.”
On 8th of March, women with and without refugee background came together to discuss their rights and possibilities.
Trampoline House’s new legal counselor focuses on making immigration law more understandable for asylum seekers and refugees. She offers free counseling every week.
At Trampoline House’s house meetings, the participants are practicing democratic dialogue. Meanwhile, the government and the Danish People’s Party are restricting refugees’ possibilities for integration.
The new Women’s Class empowers women by sharing stories and discussing feminism and human rights.
Ping Pong is more than just a popular sport. By playing ping pong, you can practice living in accordance with Buddhistic and philosophical values.
The government’s refugee policies don’t make sense on a humane, democratic or economical level. We have to resist!
“Please listen to our voices. We do not want our loved children crying every day because of the horrible living conditions. Our children are asking, why are we living here? Asking, what shall we eat? We, parents have no answers but to cry also ourselves. We don't want our kids to suffer any more.”
Since October 25, children and parents have been boycotting the cafeteria food in deportation center Sjælsmark. They ask for the center to be closed.
David is originally from China and now volunteering in Trampoline House. He has written a poem about hope.
Everyone who comes to Trampoline House now have the possibility to get help to find a job. Every Wednesday at 10am–12pm, volunteer job counselors arrange a job workshop that will strengthen the participants in their pursuit of the job market.
Support from Novo Nordisk Fonden, Lauritzen Fonden og private donationer, has made it possible for Trampoline House to hire a Children’s Club Coordinator. "The Children’s Club is to function as a nice place, where these children can find ease, security, positive relations, predictability and happiness," says Sara Ipsen
“The kids with citizenship got all that is needed, but not children who are growing up in the camps. I'm just sorry they don't have the same rights as Danish citizens. Also, they don't have the same opportunity, freedom, house, food, generally normal life.”
“There is discrimination on both sides. She wasn’t completely comfortable telling us that she was from Dansk Folkeparti. That’s why it’s an important thing for us to go to People’s Meeting and talk with people that are different from us.”
“If someone would ask what I miss the most from home, I would tell them I missed the smell of my mother and my brother. And the voice of the man I loved.”
“Before I started coming to Trampoline House, I was just in Roskilde. Sometimes I went shopping for maybe half an hour, and then I returned home to watch TV.”
“There’s a different atmosphere out here. It’s not about learning Danish or getting help with your legal issues.”
"You can get mental health and body health from ping-pong" Meet David, who’s behind Trampoline House’s weekly ping-pong workshops
"The kitchen before was very small and wasn’t prepared for this amount of people, but now it is good, and we are working more professionally."
"Some of the kids have had a traumatizing past, but they feel very safe here"
"Together, we can create a new paradigm". Get an overview of Trampoline House's activities and finances in 2017