We thought it was only right to use the blog to offer some practical resources for those in the international community who feel deeply and permanently affected by the terrorist attacks on Norway this time last year. We feel that in the circumstances, it is important to try and forge discreet but meaningful acts of solidarity and support that have a lasting legacy. We can only hope we are doing our best through the following suggestions (and hope that a similar international response will be made to the traumatic events in Colorado over the last 24 hours):
It is still possible to make donations to the Utøya fund run via Norway’s Youth Workers’ League (Arbeidernes Ungdomsfylking in Norwegian). As many of you will know, it was the Youth Workers’ League that was running a summer camp on the island of Utøya this time last year when a truly terrible chain of events unfolded; we can only praise the league for its sterling response over the last year.
The fund is being used to restore facilities damaged during the devastating attacks on the island, with a reported 35 million Norwegian kronor donated as of May this year. If you click on the Utøya link on the main AUF page, it takes you through to this page (with an option to translate into English in the top left corner). From there you can click ‘Gi online’ (donate online) under the heading ‘Kredittkort’ (credit card) and make a donation on this page (again, with various language options available). We wish the AUF all the best in their endeavours and are confident this will serve as a truly appropriate memorial fund.
Otherwise, we would like to draw attention to the ongoing work of the Norwegian Refugee Council (Flyktninghjelpen), a non-governmental organisation providing vital support and assistance to refugees and displaced persons worldwide. This organisation is providing a vital response to humanitarian crises including the ongoing drought in East Africa – with its ongoing operations in Lebanon surely gaining even greater urgency as full-on civil war and the uprooting of communities in neighbouring Syria becomes a growing reality.
We are aware that the NRC’s work is internationally-based and had existed for several years prior to the events of July 2011; however, we feel those those very events were completely unrepresentative of all the internationalist work Norway has historically done in the interests of peace, freedom and democracy. As such, we feel that a donation to the NRC would count as a gesture of solidarity for Norway whilst helping those who have been victimised through no fault of their own across the globe.
We are aware that there have been some technical glitches with the NRC’s website, meaning that online donations are not that easy to make at the moment. The NRC is itself aware of the problem; however, you can make a donation via a banking transfer in the interim (details given here).
We continue to welcome and actively champion the suggestion made last year by renowned British children’s author Michael Morpurgo that Britain should offer to plant a tree on the island of Utøya – both in recognition of the tree given to the UK by Norway every Christmas and displayed in Trafalgar Square, and as a lasting, (literally) rooted act of solidarity and friendship. We call upon UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague to actively countenance the idea – and would be delighted if any readers in the international community feel it’s worth asking their own respective countries if it’s not time to make a similar gesture.
Otherwise we re-iterate our belief that music plays an invaluable role in helping to heal human wounds. Here is some footage of violinist Alexander Rybak playing a composition by legendary Norwegian fiddler Sven Nyhus as part of a memorial event in Oslo city centre days after the attacks. For us, the work of Nyhus is a remarkable musical discovery that we have made in the last 48 hours and we are wondering where he has been all our lives. Proof that surprising and immediate joy can help to salve wounds caused by totally unexpected trauma and sorrow.
Thinking of our brothers and sisters in Norway this weekend. Peace be with them.