Sundsvall in the world

We are not alone in the world! The Corona virus epidemic has, if anything, proved our dependency of each other. It is a wake up call against our very egocentric societies where we have been made to believe that focusing on the self and own interests is the best way forward. This ego society does not bring anyone happiness as it does not bring fulfillment and positive sense of human existence. 

In this context I am writing a few words about what a community with most of its basic needs fulfilled can do for others in the world.

Sweden is considered one of the best societies in the world. This is based on a collective sense of guaranteeing help to our needed citizens and conditions for development. The function and organization of education and health are basic in the assessment of the well being of a society. Sweden comes top because we have been capable to use our resources in a rather fair and just way.

The Swedish parliament is conscious that egoism is not the way forward for ourselves or in the world. That is why for 2020 it has reserved a sum of about 4.5 billion Dollars for cooperation with other countries. Most of this money is administered by Swedish international Development Agency (SIDA). 

Many municipalities in Sweden participate in the various programs that are financed by SIDA. Much of these cooperation resources are chained to various organizations that work within the goals and aims of the Swedish parliament. One of the important organizations is ICLD (International Center for Local Democracy). Sundsvall has in the last years been part of this program and has worked with the community of Makunduchi in the southern part of the island of Unguja in Zanzibar. The population is calculated as more than 1 million people in an area half the size of the area of Sundsvall.

Being involved in this project since the beginning I felt that we should from our part gather as much information as possible and this took me last month to visit Mr. Ulf Källstig at the SIDA office in Dar es Salam. He could during this interview thank our municipaly for its commitment and at the same time explained that economic growth in the African continent should interest Swedish companies and we also talked about what can be done to combat the environment situation we are going through.
Any comments are welcome directly on this blog as this article will be followed up shortly.

Conceived for homelessness?

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As I temporarily regain contact with you, dear readers, I am describing my awakening on the 10th December 1989 in the capital city of Santiago de Chile. The Swedish delegation would be aware that this is Nobel day, back home, but Chileans were most aware that there was an important election coming up.

Many hundreds of thousands had gathered at the O’Higgins Park to listen to the final pre-election speeches of Democracy candidate Patricio Aylwin. The excitement and enthusiasm of the crowds gathered at this park on this day was indescribable.

Swedish Embassy official Staffan Wrigstad and Ingemar Söderberg  from Swedish cooperation agency (SIDA) met us soon after. They gave us, their view on expected political and economic developments in the country. In the evening we managed to squeeze in a visit to poor residential area Renca  and saw the activities that were taking place there, where rehearsal for election procedures were being drilled.

On Monday we sat on the bus for the long journey to Concepcion, 600 Kilometres to the south.

This city claims a well-known university where we saw a famous wall painting by Mexican artist Jorge Gonzalez Camarena. The main goal for our trip was to visit Maria Gonzalez home for homeless girls. This project that helped girls escape a future in prostitution and drugs, was started by Marlene Sandoval. Aftonbladet´s journalist Anette Kullenberg helped with contacts with Swedish labour organizations that went in, with economic support.

The home could at this time give residence and support to 25 girls. At this time there were estimates that many children (up to 1 million) lived in the streets, about half of these in the Concepción region alone. In this context this project could be seen as a drop in the ocean but through the years many of these children were helped to better perspectives. The girls showed through a drama representation what they had experienced during their homeless existence.

On this same day we carried on south to the mining community of Lota. Here we could join up with workers at the local Folkets Hus. To be able to have this meeting our hosts got permission from the authorities, as gatherings are not normally permitted 48 hours before an election.

The Lota club organized social activities for the benefit of the families in this mining district. And Lota would be as far south as I would travel in the southern hemisphere.

Elections approaching we travelled back to Santiago.

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