Scenes from the musical Bonn Aid: Fløysbonn for Africa
Major Inger Marit Nygård receives money raised by the students
Some of the people in Swaziland who will be helped because of the funds raised in Norway
Major Inger Marit Nygård is Projects Officer in The Salvation Army’s Norway, Iceland and The Færoes Territory (additional text and photos by Norwegian War Cry reporter Ole Kåre Eide)
Swaziland: By Children for Children
by Major Inger Marit Nygård (additional text and photos by Norwegian War Cry reporter Ole Kåre Eide)
Funding through Norway
Swaziland is a beautiful country, hilly and green. But spend some time with Salvation Army staff from the clinic in Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland, and you will realise that this little kingdom, with a population of less than a million, is not the paradise it seems to be. Swaziland has been devastated by HIV/Aids – it’s estimated that one in four adults is HIV positive.
Grandmothers have to care for grandchildren because the children’s parents are dead. Uncles or aunts have to look after nieces and nephews because they are the only adults left in the whole family. Young teenagers are forced to become the breadwinners for younger sisters, brothers and cousins because all the adults in the family are dead.
The Salvation Army in Swaziland has seen the need and heard the cries, and it wants to be with the people, share with them and bring hope.
With support from the Norwegian Government agency NORAD and The Salvation Army in Norway, an HIV/Aids programme has been organised and carers trained. In doing their work and by visiting homes and communities, they identify individuals infected with and affected by Aids.
I went with one of the teams to see the heart-breaking situations they come across every day. I met a nine-year-old girl living with her uncle and cousins. She, being the only female, was supposed to take care of the cooking and look after the shack that passes for a house.
I also met a group of children at school, all orphans who can go to school because of The Salvation Army’s financial support. And I met widows with one big concern: ‘What will happen to my children when I am gone?’
I hoped to help provide the funds to deal with their questions and improve their situations.
Back home in Norway I visited Fløysbonn School to speak about my work. I talked about my visit to Swaziland and the teachers and students decided to undertake a fund-raising project. I was really moved to see the teachers’ and students’ commitment to raise as much money as possible to help children living under very different conditions far away from Norway.
The culture venue in Kolbotn was packed for four successive days, as Fløysbonn Middle School presented a musical called Bonn Aid: Fløysbonn for Africa. The musical begins with a 1980s party with young people dressed as their idols from the 80s. The Bangles rub shoulder-pads with Bruce Springsteen. Madonna wears a classic Marilyn Monroe outfit and Michael Jackson is dressed in black with white gloves.
The media in 1984 is shown to be focused on the Cold War. Few people seemed to care about the many catastrophies in Africa. However, in the musical, we meet Virre. He has learned that conditions in Africa are even worse today than they were in 1984. Every day, 6,000 people die from Aids. Virre gets an idea, he wants to do the same thing Bob Geldof did. Just as Geldof gathered famous artists together for Band Aid, Virre wants to create ‘Bonn Aid’, Fløysbonn’s own charity event.
More than 80 students participated in the end-of-year musical, which is something of a school tradition. Previously, the musical has been separated from charity work but this year the two were joined.
Teachers Øyvind Fjeldstad and Sigurd O. Dancke wrote the script and arranged the music. Øyvind explains that the students are entirely on their own in the production of the show. They are both on and behind the stage, they play the instruments and run the sound and light systems.
He describes the response as overwhelming. The local press described the show as giving goose-bumps.
After each performance the students stood outside the venue with collecting boxes. ‘The first night we collected more than 1,000 euros,’ recalls Øyvind. ‘The students thought the world had gone mad!’
In addition to the four presentations of the musical, Bonn Aid included a door-to-door appeal in the neighbourhood, stands and exhibitions. All income will be used by The Salvation Army in Swaziland.
When the school year ended in June I was invited to Fløysbonn, where proud students and teachers handed me a cheque for more than 10,000 euros, earmarked for The Salvation Army’s work in Swaziland.
So why did the school decide to support The Salvation Army? It’s not just because of the need – although that is great. Øyvind Fjeldstad explains it like this: ‘The Salvation Army has shown it is able to forward funds to those who really need them. And,’ he adds, ‘in general, people only say good things about The Salvation Army.’
Long may that continue!