Transit – 42 million stories

How does it feel to have to live outside your country, apart from your family and friends? Maybe in constant fear of violence?

These questions came to mind when visiting the wonderful Nobel Peace Center in Oslo last weekend. I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it again: the Nobel Peace Center is my favorite museum. They combine technology, peace, humanity, photos, gadgets, smart and thought-provoking solutions in a great way. Downstairs is usually reserved for a photo exhibition or similar, upstairs exhibition area presents the latest Peace Prize winner and hosts the permanent collection of interactive gadgets.

I saw Transit, a photo exhibition about refugees. As before, the exhibition was divided into sections dealing with different countries. You enter by walking through a video installation that brings you to a busy street on some developing country. You walk on a kind of bridge, towards the exhibition area, and at the end of the bridge you see a large photo of a Latino(?) man, looking straight to you with a tear in his eye.

May sound cheesy, but is not. It was very real and very touching.

It’s hard to describe what the stories of these people look like. It’s even harder to imagine walking in their shoes.

Descriptions of reality from Colombia and Yemen are chilling. Someone’s 8-year old child is strangled in her bed in the night, as someone somewhere has a disagreement over money or something of value. Someone else’s three children are tied to bed six hours a day so that the mother can go to work in order to get even a little money to the family.

Just think about it. There are over 42 million refugees in the world. That equals 42 million stories. I just told two as an example, and they are quite unsettling already. Imagine the rest.

I recommend the Nobel Peace Center to anyone who wants a little perspective. I’m not saying our problems are less real or less acute, they are just different, partly products of our wellbeing. When I say our, I mean people who have an education, decent place to sleep in, enough food on the table to keep hunger away and maybe even a family or other form of security network. And when I say wellbeing, I mean that most of us don’t have to tie our kids to their beds in order to get some food on the table. We may have to compromise and struggle a bit to make family timetables work, but no one needs to be tied to their beds.

The Nobel Peace Center has two other exhibitions coming our way this spring: one about Afghanistan and other about Gandhi and his policy of non-violence.

♥ In the meantime: I just received a package in the mail: season eight of Spooks. Long-awaited, finally here. Just like meeting an old friend!

♠ Song of the day: Astrud Gilberto, Gentle rain

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