“My dream in Denmark is to keep my children safe”

by Natalia Ghincul

Lyngbygård Asylum Centre, 13 km South-west from Grenaa, is one of the asylum centers across Denmark which is run by the Red Cross. According to the data from the 21st of December 2015, the Lyngbygård Asylum Centre is a temporary home for 112 asylum seekers of 14 nationalities. Additionally, 51 volunteers are helping maintain the center which was open in October 2014. Both adults and children have the opportunity to travel every day to the regional office in Voldby in order to go to the kindergarten, school, club and to visit the job center or health clinic.

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One of the volunteers posted a photo of letters that arrived to the asylum center from locals in order to support the inhabitatnts of the center and give them a warm welcome to Denmark.

It created some headlines in the Danish media last year. Unfortunately, it was negative publicity when the center was vandalized overnight at the end of August. The perpetrators drew Nazi symbols and set fire to a volunteer car which was used as an important mean of transport within the center. On the garage doors were left the message “FØRSTE ADVARSEL” (First warning) and “DNSB” which is a reference to the National Socialist Movement of Denmark. After a couple of days the police located the 26-year-old perpetrator. This act was highly condemned by the Red Cross and the general secretary of the organization Anders Ladekarl commented on Twitter: “Nazi-arson and threat against a Danish Red Cross asylum center near Grenaa is abhorrent. Find the guilty and remove the distance. It is not Danish”.

The incident was also condemed by the locals as some volunteers created a Facebook event where they proposed to send a letter to the inhabitanta of the center with words of support helping them understand thatfire and threats are not the way we meet asylum seekers in Denmark. Around 3,600 people were invited to take part in this initiative and 894 people participated in it according to Facebook. 

The center is located on the outskirts of Trustrup, a small city with 820 inhabitants. There is a supermarket located not far from the asylum center and it could be counted as the only meeting place for the inhabitants of the center, where they can interact with locals.

In the center a young woman from Syria is cooking lunch for her family in the common kitchen. Her name is Rania and she comes from Al-Hasakah, in the north-east of Syria. She is eager to meet new people and have a conversation. Before arriving to Denmark 1 month ago — with her husband and 2 children — she was studying law at the local university. As many other Syrians, she had to flee from war and she made a long journey to Denmark that took her and her family around 18 days, her youngest not even having babykjole to protect him from the harsh weather conditions during the trek. They were travelling with all means of transport, but also walking through some regions with two small sons (1 year and 2 years old), passing through Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Croatia and Germany.

On the question: why did you choose Denmark as your final destination? Rania says she had heard that Denmark has a very welcoming society and the rules for Syrian refugees are not so strict. When she arrived here, says Rania, people were open and willing to help. Rania says she experienced the opposite passing through Slovenia during her exhausting journey. What made her really surprised in Denmark was that the Danes were so welcoming.

What did her family bring with them for this long and unknown journey? Milk and water for her babies were the most crucial items, besides some light clothes that they could carry across the hundreds of kilometres.

As to her future dreams in Denmark, she wants to keep her children safe.

photo credits Teresa Weikmann