I am taking a break over the summer with this blog.
If you understand Swedish, you are more than welcome to follow my blog on Facebook or on my website. (They are identical in content, just posted in different forums.) Se links below:
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I'm really fortunate in my work because I get to meet heroes all the time. Or sometimes, I'm lucky enough to learn about them through people I meet.
As I write this, I'm sitting on the train and as usual, there's a delay. Let's face it, it would be unusual for a Swedish train to arrive on time! Yet, today, it was fortuitous as while standing on the platform, I met a man who recognized me from my job. He's African, which is where I met him. He once shared with me the tragic story of his past. A story that includes violence, homelessness, crime, abuse, becoming an orphan... not a single thing we would wish for any child to experience.
During our catch-up conversation on the platform, he told me his request for a residency permit in Sweden had been rejected, and that the police could come at any time to collect him and expel him from the country.
He has nowhere to go; no family, no friends, and no passport. He has no idea where they will send him; the only certainty is that he can't stay in Sweden. What astounded me was his lack of anger, and I asked him how he could deal with it all so easily.
I'll never forget his answer.
“The staff,” he told me. “They've helped me get through this.”
He was referring to the social workers at his temporary accommodation, and he went on to describe the security they give him, the sense of belonging and support they've imbued in him during his time here.
"When the police come to get me, I lose them. That's what makes my heart cry!"
As I got onto the train, concern filled me. I have sons and I thank God my children never had to experience the hell that is exclusion as this young man has had to learn to live with. I find myself thanking the unknown and infrequently praised heroes—the staff who have given the man warmth and security for the first time in his life.
And then, I think of the time when he won't have access to those heroes, to his security, and I remember the headline declaring that Swedes have more expendable income than they've had in decades...
Tonight, I doubt I'll sleep well. There isn't a damn thing I, or that man's heroes can do to help him...the world is so unfair. Sometimes, even heroes can only do so much.
Have a brilliant day!
A while back, I was sitting on a bench on Benidorm's promenade when a man took a seat at my side. He looked so down that I couldn't help but ask if he was okay.
“I'm on holiday with my wife. Normally, we have such a great time,” he told me. As he grew more comfortable, he painted the picture as to why a great time was not being had... they had a new member of the family, one that followed them around constantly. Almost as though it were, “Surgically grafted to her hand,” was how he phrased it.
He was talking about his wife's new phone.
“It's like we're on holiday with the whole family and all her friends! We don't have a minute to ourselves. We used to be romantic, drink champers together, and learn more about each other. Now, everything we do is scaled down to a picture she can post on Facebook and Instagram. She tells the world how romantic we're being, but I don't feel it. Not at all.”
His wife felt the need to document her holiday by taking photos of the food they ate, the jet ski they rented, choosing to give her social networks preference over her husband.
He was so disheartened, so certain that if he gave her an ultimatum—it's the phone or me—she'd choose the phone, that I had to help. We talked and I suggested a few strategies that might help to reforge the intimacy they'd once had. After all, she was his wife and she had a new toy...it wasn't grounds for a divorce, but still, it was a problem they needed to work through together. He went off, and hopefully, enjoyed the remainder of his holiday.
The next day, I was having coffee with a friend in a café. He asked me, and yet, he sat and fiddled with his phone the entire time. I couldn't help but think of the man's wife, and realized how grateful I was not to live with a phone addict! Even more, how grateful I am that I'm not one either!
Have a brilliant day!