For refugees from Syria and other war-torn regions, the journey to Europe is long and difficult, leaving many traumatized from their experiences and lonely after being separated from their families. Realizing that there was a real need among asylum seekers coming to Denmark, our volunteers there were inspired to bring some joy to their communities.
The project began when four volunteers went to the central refugee camp in Denmark, where many asylum seekers spend months and even years after arriving in Europe. These people, including families with small children, live in an abandoned military site near Copenhagen, waiting to be told whether they will be able to receive asylum from the local government.
When our volunteers asked how some of their daily stress could be relieved, one man laughed, saying “We want to have a party!” A spontaneous celebration ensued, resulting in about 80 people dancing in a small room at the site, music playing from mobile phones. Our volunteers were delighted when they saw joy spreading across the dancers, noticing the way anxiety seemed to fade from the room.
Inspired by this initial party, more volunteers in Denmark became involved in this project. Our volunteers invite local bands to perform at the camp, continuing the tradition of musical community. Our efforts have led to donations of art supplies from shops, allowing asylum seekers to express themselves through creative projects. Andreas, a local AYUDH member, has been instrumental in inspiring young volunteers to engage with this project. Young people regularly play football with the asylum-seeking youth, allowing them to enjoy the same sports that they played in their home countries.
Each of these volunteer-led events centers on the simple goal of spreading joy among these people whose lives have been so traumatically disrupted. It is a time when the asylum seekers can perform their own cultural dances, while our volunteers can feel truly connected with the community. One volunteer described the end of one of these celebrations, saying “Our hearts are melted by the humble and grateful attitude of the asylum seekers, so it’s hard to leave. We have to promise we will be back soon.”