Translation of article in Billed Bladet #38, 2011.
Jeg kan se hjælpen nytter – I can see the aide makes a difference.
Well written by Trine Larsen.
We’ve been up since 04.00 in order to be ready to leave before sunup. It’s still so dark that you really can’t see your own hands. A small kerosene lamp dangling in a tree some distance away from the tent is the only directional guide for the place where you can wash yourself a bit with water from a dipper.
Here the Crown Prince is already standing – wide-awake, you can tell on his voice, because you cannot yet glimpse the smile, due to the darkness. The evening before the Crown Prince used his miner’s lamp to chivalrously light up for those who needed it, just as he willingly shared his mosquito repellant.
It hasn’t amounted to that many hours of sleep, but the Crown Prince is father of twins and in the habit, even though he perhaps this night got more sleep than he is used to. Now he is ready for yet another day, where he with his own eyes can follow the work Red Cross is doing in Mozambique. After having been active for seven-eight hours, several of them on foot across the savanna, the sun is high in the sky. The Crown Prince and your reporter from Billed Bladet get the opportunity to sit in the shade on a mat made of reeds and talk about what we have experienced.
- “It’s the first time I travel for Red Cross and I’m enormously delighted that it succeeded. Off hand it can seem like we just come down here and literally just stir the ground a bit with a stick. But I sense from Red Cross that such a visit is considered of a big significance. Not just right now but also on a longer term basis”, says Crown Prince Frederik who during the busy and packed three day visit also managed to make a couple of spoilers, which can be seen right now on TV and www.billedbladet.dk
. They are meant to induce people to volunteer as collectors at the national Red Cross fundraiser the 2nd October.
- “It’s all the experiences we have here, which we must pass on. To friends, family, readers, TV viewers, collectors and contributors. So that they can see it really makes a difference”, says Crown Prince Frederik.
- “Such a visit has repercussions on many levels. Not just among the people we have met, but also because we chose to do the visit this way”, says Frederik and hint at the somewhat un-royal billeting in tent and sleeping bag on the savanna – with no electricity and water and with both dinner and breakfast prepared over a campfire.
Something the Crown Prince is perhaps not quite used to, but an experience, which he appreciates a lot. He actually feels it gives him a sense of peace and freedom.
- “Everybody who is on the trip sense it. Just the fact that you sleep out in the nature. You come completely down to earth… literally. You sense the scents, the sounds and (you) get a really good sense of how people here live. Just to experience how utterly dark it is here…. there really is someone who pull the plug every night (*)”, smiles Frederik.
Q: But can you at all, when sitting safely and comfortably at home in Denmark, imagine what kind of poverty there is down here?
- “No, that’s hard. There is a good deal of want (**)….. And we cannot compare our situation at home with this here. That after all isn’t the purpose either, but having said that, it really is hard to imagine how people down here struggle every day. Struggle to live…. And survive.
I have however seen places and pictures of extreme poverty, which far supercede, what we have seen here in Mozambique. Here there is generally a pride and will to make it. It’s hard working people who deserve to have a future, a better life, for example by farming the land. And that can be difficult considering the quality of the soil. But it’s right here that Red Cross makes a big difference, because they among other things teach people to farm the land and give the seeds to sow”.
- “It’s the women in particular you have to take of your hat for (idiom). Those I’ve met are really cool/tough. They know no other life than this, so they just have to cope…. And most of them have more children than I have”, says Frederik with a deep respect.
Apart from providing food, the women must also walk many kilometers for water, just as they are also exposed to devastating forces of nature – in some periods drought, in others cyclones and flooding.
The population of Mozambique, which is one of the poorest countries in the world, also fights against illnesses like diarrhea, malaria and HIV/aids. Many women provide both for the family, work in the field and give birth to and feed their children alone, because the men have left. Often to find work in the major cities or in the neighboring country South Africa.
- “It is at least positive that the men don’t just hang out and do nothing, as you see elsewhere, but try to earn money for the family. That their self-discipline isn’t always that good is another matter. I hear about many forgetting to send money home to the family. That they run off and establish a new family and leave the old one to cope for itself or that they simply die from aids, without the family being told”, says Crown Prince Frederik, who has just visited a HIV-infected single mother of three, whose husband had vanished some years before.
- “It’s extremely hard to meet such a woman and naturally it makes a deep, deep impression on me. I think perhaps, it’s become a little harder for me after I have become a father myself. And of course I cannot help thinking about my own at home. You simply cannot help it”, says Crown Prince Frederik, who has always shown a good rapport with children when he has been on a journey.
This time however it was obvious that the father-heart was tested several times and several small buds of similar age to the twins of the Crown Prince did get a loving pad on the head or was caressed lovingly on the cheek.
One of the visits of the day was to a Red Cross center where women can give birth and have their children inoculated (***). It’s a far cry from Pink Room at Rigshospitalet, where Frederik’s own little Princes and Princesses were born.
- “Yes, it’s different conditions. But fine conditions for those down here and safe for them to know that there is help to be had, even though Red Cross here in Mozambique mostly provide help for them to help themselves. The help works and provide hope. It’s not that nasty guerilla soldiers come at night and take everything Red Cross hand out during the day, as you see elsewhere. Here the Red Cross helps people to get started, so that they by themselves can move on. And that help, I can clearly see, matters”, says the Crown Prince.
Q: What can you use such a trip for on a personal basis?
- “I really appreciate that I have the opportunity to travel down here and experience it on my own body. That enables me to get a depth (within himself) in what I go around doing in the community/society I’m a part of at home.
But that I think applies to many Danes, because when it comes to donations and helping others, the Danes are fantastic. We can see time and time again that the Danes are more than willing to help, when Red Cross and other organizations ask for help.
That I think is unique and very positive. Both the Crown Princess and I feel a great pleasure in being a part of creating more awareness around such fundraisers”, says Frederik, who as such backed Mary up I her decision in cutting hers and the Crown Prince’s summer cruise with Dannebrog short, so that she could go to Horn of Africa (****) in order to support the national fundraiser a little more than a month ago.
Q: What has made the biggest impression on you (*****) down here in Mozambique?
- “That’s difficult to say. If I have to emphasize something the meeting with Celestania, whom I worked with today has made a big impression on me. She’s standing in a river, in water to her hips and cut reefs, drag them up on the shore in order for them to dry, bundles them up and then walk across the savanna to her home with a bundle on her head, weighing eight-ten kilos. Only then will she have to use a week weaving a reef-mat and then she can drag that on her head to the village and perhaps sell it for 12-14 DKK (less than 3$). That makes an impression and put things in perspective, when the rest of us whimper in our daily lives”, says the Crown Princess and goes on:
- “Of course it was also a tough experience to meet the HIV-infected woman and her three children, of which two were also infected. I’ll never forget such a meeting, but each experience is different and leaves a mark on you”.
(*) Frederik is a devout Christian, but just like the vast majority of Danes, your religion is considered a very private matter and as such he rarely hints at the subject.
(**) Actually “armod” a slightly archaic word for poverty. Used as a more delicate word to speak about poverty. The alternative and current word is “fattigdom”, that word was in some circles considered a little too direct. – An early example of political correctness.
(***) Giving birth is among the biggest killers of women in developing countries. Comparable to the fatality rate in medieval Europe.
(****) I need to ask: Is the Horn of Africa also a geographical concept in English? Or is it only a Scandinavian and German concept?
(*****) Using formal you.
BB is up.