Saturday 23 May 2015

Portraits of Justice #4: Are {Stockholm, Sweden}

This album entitled "Portraits of Justice", looking at justice around the world. Having just returned from Sweden two days ago, I thought that it would be pertinent that I should focus on Sweden today. I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Are in Bogota, Colombia, and photographing him in both Colombia and Sweden.  

"Justice for us is about trying to hold our society together, and to keep, to guarantee, and enhance human rights for everyone. We are working on a national level with the Roma people, who come from Romanian and Bulgaria, and how to support their human rights in our context. As fascism and racism is growing in Sweden right now that is something we do on many different levels. Partly that looks like going out to the streets, which we are doing in huge numbers. It is also work that has to do with breaking down language barriers for example between Euro union immigrants.

"I think that the church needs to be deeper rooted in prayer and to have one leg in that baptismal water somehow, and actually  be very soaked in what we say and what we do. What we have in the church that is unique, though we share it with other religions, is our stories. It is indeed  prayer and contact with God. So i think  the church needs to have that tension, to be grounded in prayer and grace, and also to reach out with arms and feet into society and the world. "

"Something beautiful that I have experienced around Christmas, that for me was the most relevant Christmas celebrations, that friends of mine who are volunteering in an organization that works with homeless people organized a big concert with musicians that volunteered. We filled up a big church with people to gather clothes and money for people of the streets who were freezing very much.

Right now this work is challenging in Sweden because we have received so many more homeless people due to the European Union and there is conflict between "Swedish homeless people" and "Immigrant homeless people". How to use the resources, this is challenging for the organizations because the pressure is so big and the funding is marked. This church gathered both groups, and what I thought was so beautiful is that it included storytelling by actual homeless Swedes and immigrant.

It was beautiful because it broke down a barrier, which is what Christmas is about, remembering that the God that we believe in is a refugee. It really touched me and gave me inspiration to always try to make sure that  voices are heard and that language barriers are broken down so that we can relate to each other."

Does Are's story resonate with you? Leave a comment and let him know!

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