When I was contacted by someone that was volunteering for Welcome Refugees to Kongsberg/Hvittingfoss, asking if I was interested in doing something creative to brighten up the lonely windows at the collection station they have on the west side, I was more than happy to contribute. I have been wanting to do a project like this for a very long time. Since moving to Norway I have been amongst many refugees. I learnt Norwegian together with them, heard their stories that they would share, & became friends with them.
There has been alot of media around these people that have arrived from places such as Syria. I noticed that they haven't been showing their faces that much and I think it is very important to show them. They are just like you and me, except they have been through much more than most of us could even imagine.
I spent two hours there a few weeks back, meeting first with the kids doing their bicycle course, then I went inside to meet with families and others. The kids were having a great time and weren't even aware of the freezing cold rain as they rode around on their obstacle course. When I went inside it was very quiet compared to the week I had been there before. But this week there were 200 less people. They had already been moved on to more permanent residence.
I asked people if I could take their photo and I mostly got a yes. Two older men were so much fun, laughing and lifting each other up. It made for a very nice atmosphere. The kids all wanted their photos taken. People wanted to be seen.
I hung the best 16 photos up in the windows last Thursday and we had a little street exhibition opening on Friday. I was so surprised when about 50 people showed up! Mostly Norwegians and some refugees too. The photos will be in the windows for a while and when they come down they will go to the people in the photos.
I would like to thank Marianne Kjenås for the opportunity to take the photos, to Larissa for thinking of me, to the refugees for letting me come into their world for a short time and to Kongsberg Kopisenteret for helping us out with printing. Also to Laagendalsposten for such a nice article.