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I met doctors, politicians, singers, journalists, human rights lawyers, policemen - and the French Ambassador - at the Folkemøde on Bornholm

Folkemødet and the beautiful Danish smile

I met doctors, politicians, singers, journalists, human rights lawyers, policemen – and the French Ambassador – at the Folkemøde on Bornholm 


Hisham w. Zaki

” I would like to say thanks to Denmark and the Danish people who save our life and I wish that you will continue and help more people. You are great Humans”

Every year around 100.000 Danish and other nationality people meet each other in Denmark on an island called Bornholm. I was the lucky asylum seeker to have a wonderful chance to go there to tell my story and share this great fantastic event as they call Folkemøde, which means people meeting.  It started with a beautiful sunny weather, fresh air and my lovely friends whom also came to do volunteer work, making food and to give speeches.

Beautiful opportunity
Last March Stephan, the director and Ea Krogstrup, the volunteer Coordinator of the asylum center on Bornholm (Slottet), asked us (the asylum seekers) if  we wanted to participate in the people meeting and they explained what it was like. After a while Stephan introduced me to Mr. Michael Voss the information consultant in the Danish Adult Education Association and from here my first step started to Folkemødet. Mr. Michael told me that I can talk in an event which is called “Gæstebud”. After some days Mr. Tage Hansen sent an email to Politiken newspaper and asked them if I can participate in their programs at Folkemødet and the answer was amazingly that I can tell my story and share the stage with the French Ambassador. Again I received a nice invitation to participate in a debate with Red Cross to speak about the possibilities to work even though the person is in the asylum system. Later I received four very good offers. First to share the blood donor team to be with them and also share them to give information about the blood donor through the Folkemøde. The second offer was from Ms. Gitte Jensen a member of Bornholm refugees’ friends to give debate about my story in the integrate into society. The third one was from Ea Krogstrup employee of the Danish Red Cross to do some volunteer work and help the people meeting’s team. The last offer was from Ms. Lea Wermelin candidate of Socialdemokraterne Party she invited me to come and speak about my experience in participation the community and work.

The meeting approaching
My worry became bigger when I saw the calendar entering the first of June and I started thinking too much about what I will do and if I can do those tasks. Some nights I had difficulty sleeping. Well the most time I was thinking about the Blood Donor Information because I should speak with the people in Danish language to tell them some facts about the blood and some information how to be a blood donor. I was in need of some help from Iben Jensen which is a nursing student and also a member of blood donor team. She helped me to read and pronounce the text which I should know about it.

One of many speeches during the Folkemøde

The 11th of June
Thursday morning at 8:45 Ea was waiting (for me, Rawan, Majd, Ratib, Husam ,Perrick and other people) at the entry gate of our asylum center. We walked to the bus stop and took the bus to Allinge. It was really a beautiful start we walked to meet some employee of the people meeting to tell us how we can help them. During that Winni Grosbøll, the Mayor of Bornholm, said hey and welcomed us and also many other people. Then we started our first task to take some newspapers and maps and put it in some different places and continue to check the places to fill it again. At 14:00 o’clock the Mayor gave the opening speech. Then I prepared for my first debate which started at 16:00 o’clock. I was excited to speak in Danish despite my not good verbal and grammatical talents, but I spoke about how important it is to have friends and how much we need volunteers to guide, show and tell us more about Denmark and the Danes. I gave an example with my friend Peter who helped me to  be a volunteer bartender in the Musikhuzet. Also my friend Ala’a he told me to come to Bornholm Refugees’ Friends and he told them that he knows me and now I am volunteer as translator there. Also my friend Wael gave me the chance to be with him in the same job and he introduced me to Tine, the owner of the café and he told her he knew me and she gave me the chance to have the job because she is glad to have Wael in the work. And finally Gitte helped me to be in Natteravnene. A nice work where you take care of the teenagers in the weekend. In this tent Kau Root, an asylum worker at Svaneke Bryghus, also gave a speech.

At 18:00 me and Mr. Anders Ladekarl, the head of Danish Red Cross, was in Gæstebud’s debate. After that the attendants started to eat the dinner.  It was delicious Middle East food made by the asylum seeker Siba Essa. I shared my story and talked about what my life in Iraq was like. As some people know, the situation in Iraq is so bad. I decided to leave the country after they had exploded my house. My mother also left after she received a letter from Islamic State to leave the house or be murdered. And that was because we are from religion called Mandaeism.

Met the French ambassador
The second day I walked to Politiken’s tent to meet Mr. Francois Zimeray, the French ambassador in Denmark. I was looking forward to meet this man because he was a Human rights ambassador and when I met him I was touched that he is such a humble man. I shared my story again and we spoke about other things with more wishes and hope that Iraq be safe again. The atmosphere was so friendly and nice but unfortunately it was just half an hour from 11:30 to 12:00.

At 12:45 I participated in the Red Cross debate and I spoke about my new job in Denmark which is at cafe Gustav where I help in the cafe and I explained how I got this job.

After that I went to the blood donor team stand and tried to speak with the people about giving blood and to be donor. I was surprised because a lot of people were already donors and I was so happy because some of the people signed to be blood donors. That was so great as there are more than one thousand persons who give blood every day, but Denmark still needs more. Especially the Plasmapheresis donation which is a new kind of giving part of the blood of the Plasma.

Handing out refreshments at the blood donor tent

In the evening I was so happy. I was touched that the people meeting is such an amazing event. I met my friends from Trampolinehuset I met my friend Abel Zemhret and many people which I know. I met some refugees and asylum seekers some of them already my friends some I know them and some we start to be friends. They also gave speech or worked or did some other volunteer job. I met many different variety people; doctors, politicians, singers, journalists, human rights lawyers, policemen and many others.

I was so happy and I decided to stay with my friends and drink and celebrate all Fridaynight in Allinge.

Dorthe, my chef’s leader and my colleagues in Cafe Gustav they were so kind with me and they helped me to have free days in Saturday and Sunday so I could continue my work with the blood donor team. Finally, and unfortunately, the Folkemøde ended with the Mayor’s speech, but with many great and nice things.

The Danish beautiful smile
In fact, all what I did and what I will do is for your beautiful smile. Because when you smile we will have the feeling to say hi then maybe we can be friends as many friends that I have now. My friends are the first important keys to be in your beautiful society and they are the ones who help me, support me and guide me to many good things. I am just a small example of the asylum seekers. There are many asylum seekers who do a lot of good things. But there are also many asylum seekers who still need your beautiful smile to let them feel your nice welcoming and give them the chance to be a part of this great and wonderful Danish society.

In the end I would like to say thanks to Denmark and the Danish people who save our life and I wish that you will continue and help more people. You are great Humans.

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