Sunday, November 25, 2007

Church asylum

When you come to Norway illegally and then report yourself to the police, seeking asylum because you expect to be tortured to death if you're sent back to your home country, a long process starts where they try to find out if you're telling the truth about who you are and the risk of being tortured. Some times they believe you, and you get to stay on humanitarian grounds. Other times, they decide that they don't believe you and send you back to your home country.

Some times, people who are supposed to be sent back get to stay anyway, because international agreements block Norway from sending civilians to war zones.

Some times, people who are sent back are arrested at upon arrival, put in prison and tortured to death.

And some times, people who are supposed to be sent back run head over heels to the nearest church, where police is not allowed to arrest them. As long as they are within the church's property, they are safe. This is called church asylum.

While this sounds like a sweet deal for asylum seekers who have had their application refused by the Norwegian government, consider this: You have to stay inside all the time. Your liberty of movement ends the moment you step outside. You're actually in a form of prison, and you'll either be there for the rest of your life, or you'll be sent home to face your torturers.

Some claim that people who seek church asylum are actually lying about their background. After all, only a certain percentage of asylum seekers who are sent back by the Norwegian government actually turn out to have told the truth. But imagine to stay inside this one church day after day, month after month, year after year.

After staying in church asylum for seven years, Shahla was considering suicide (sounds ironic, but probably better than bein stoned to death), so friends and activists wanted a demonstration in front of the Norwegian parliament. And they wanted Shahla to take part in the demonstration. But how could they make this possible without Shahla being arrested? Then they had a brilliant idea: Let's build a mobile church!

Church asylum in Norway 2007 (Photo: Olav Nygård / Filadelfia)

The mobile church was blessed right before Shahla was moved on board for her trip to Oslo. Half way to Oslo, they got a message from the review board of the foreigner directorate that they had granted Shahla amnesty while the directorate review her case again. So while she now has the liberty of moving outside the church for a little while, there is still a chance that the directorate will repeat their refusal of her application and she'll hide behind the doors of a church again.

I don't know about you, but I would be really desparate to hide in a church for seven years. I'll be watching this case - media coverage allowing. (Some stories DO tend to just disappear out of sight.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hjemmefødsel / Home birth

English translation in Italics

Enkelte har uttrykt en viss skepsis for hjemmefødsel. Her er vårt generelle svar:
Some have expressed scepticism for home birth. Here is our general response:

Det finnes milliarder av grunner til å tro at det er trygt å føde hjemme, og at fødsel er en naturlig funksjon av kvinnens kropp. Vi hadde valgmuligheter:

There are billions of reasons to believe that it is safe to give birth at home, and that birth is a natural function of the female body. We did had options:

  • Vi valgte stressfrie omgivelser i stedet for sykehusets stressede omgivelser.
    We chose a stress free environment instead of the hospital's stressful environment.

  • Vi valgte naturlig fødsel uten kjemisk eller mekanisk inngrep for å få ting til å gå raskere/saktere/mindre smertefult. (Å føde i vann på 37 grader gav tilstrekkelig bedøvelse uten å senke hastigheten på fødselen)
    We chose natural birth without chemical or mechanical interference to make things go faster / slower / less painful. (Giving birth in 37 C water gave sufficient pain relief without slowing down the process.)

  • Vi valgte å holde oss rolig hjemme, 200 meter fra nærmeste ambulanse og 1100 meter fra helsesenteret, i stedet for å risikere fødsel i løpet av de 300 km med snø- og isføre midt i reinflyttinga.
    We chose to stay calm at home, 200 metres from the nearest ambulance and 1100 metres from the health centre, instead of risking birth somewhere along the 300 km of winter road in the middle of the reindeer moving season. (High risk of colliding with reindeer these days.)

  • Vi valgte et sted med frisk luft i stedet for eksosskyen til Snøvhit.
    We chose a location with clean air instead of the exhaust fumes from Snowwhite.

  • Vi la alt til rette for at en normal fødsel skulle kunne skje, og ble belønnet med verdens nydeligste barn som var rosa helt fra fødselen av, ikke blå som så mange sykehusfødsel er.
    We prepared to make a normal birth possible, and were rewarded with the world's most beautiful child, who came out pink from the moment of birth, not blue as so many hospital births are.

  • Vi sang og smilte til hverandre gjennom hele fødselen og mor kunne gi fra seg hvilke som helst lyder og gå hvor hun måtte ønske uten hemmelse fordi vi valgte å gjøre det på hjemmebane der VI var i kontroll over situasjonen.
    We sang and smiled to each other throughout the entire birth, and the mother was able to give any sounds and walk anywhere she wanted with no inhibitions, because we chose to do it in home court where WE were in control.

  • Vi valgte et sted med friske mennesker og svært få (vi var bare tre i huset), i stedet for en høyblokk full av syke mennesker.
    We picked a location with healthy people and that wasn't crowded (we were only three people in the house) instead of a high rise full of sick people.

  • Vi valgte å ta ansvar for egen fødsel, i stedet for å tro at "systemet" gir trygghet.
    We chose to take responsibility for the birth instead of believing that "the system" would give safety.

  • Og mor var i stand til å ta imot barnet med sine egne hender. Det synst vi sier sitt.
    And the mother was able to receive the child with her own hands. We believe that says what needs to be said.

  • Det vi manglet var muligheten til å forberede hjemmefødselen sammen med jordmoren. Systemet nektet henne å gi annet enn hjelp ved akkutt-tilfeller. Vi vil gi henne ære for den forståelse og assistanse hun gav oss den natten.
    What we were missing was the ability to prepare the home birth together with the mid-wife. The system barred her from assisting only in accute emergencies. We wish to give her honours for the understanding and assistance she gave us that night.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A new family member

Tired after a long and eventful night
Non-vitals: November 13th, 01:14:42 CET, 3200 g, 52 cm, boy
Vitals: Alive and well, 10 points on APGAR

More photos in our Photo album

Friday, November 02, 2007

Your ordinary trip to the dentist

Today, I'd like to tell you about what it is like to go to the dentist around here. First, you call the local dentist office to find out that they can't take you for another 3-4 weeks no matter how much pain you're in. You eventually find out that you have to visit another dentist somewhere else. So you start driving. The road is long and has a lot of turns in it.

And bumps. There are lot of bumps in the road.

With some luck, a fox will catch your attention. You stop. Take photos. The fox thinks you're from Vogue and starts posing.

But you can't take photos forever, and start driving again. Look out for reindeer crossing the road!

After 150 km, you make it to the dentist, only to find out that you're not going to the dentist today after all. The note on the door tells you that the dentist has been in an accident and is cancelling all appointments. Please call for a new appointment.

Luckily, this was not the day I had the tooth ache...