Posted by: thebluemusicblog | July 23, 2011


Dear friends,

I have great difficulties in getting my mind to comprehend what has happened. It blows through me from time to time like a very chilly wind and makes me freeze. I cannot stop thinking of the horrors these young people, some of them children, really, have had to go through. It makes me feel quite numb. Today our hearts are heavy, heavy . There is no place for anger, so far, just heaviness and sorrow and tears. Anger will come, I am sure. It needs to. It will. We are only human beings. But today our hearts are heavy, only heavy.

All day I have heard stories from young people telling about their feeling of panic and fear and terror as they tried to flee from the gunman, lying still under the bushes while they heard his footsteps close to their bodies. The island is very small and there were 600 young people there.

I have heard about parents waiting for hours as busses are coming in to the little hotel where they are gathered, searching for their children and not finding them.

On Friday I was spending part of my day in the office discussing with Africa Alliance and Y-Care International around the situation in Somalia and what we will plan to do, sharing information and channeling support. We have no contacts inside Somalia, and as we all know,it is a very complex and difficult situation there and almost impossible to interfere with. There are refugees in the neighbor countries, and Y-Care is channeling donations to ACT. We decided to wait till early next week to decide what we will do next. I finished my blog and published it. By coincidence I talked with my youngest daughter in Oslo, on Skype. I though she had called me, but it turned out not to be the case. But we had a good chat. We said good bye and hung up. I took my bag and my umbrella, closed the office, closed the gate and went home.

A few minutes later I opened my computer back home and there it was all over my screen, the government buildings downtown Oslo looking like ruins and with smoke and flames and wounded people on the sidewalks. It took some seconds before it clicked with my brain, and I just took it in very slowly. I turned around and called my daughter again, knowing that she was downtown Oslo a few minutes ago. She was there, safe and sound, but she told me how she had felt the blast and felt the house moving and shaking like in an earthquake.

Then came the news sneaking in, first a rumor about shooting on the small island on a lake an hour north of Oslo, then it was confirmed that one or two persons were wounded, and then it came as a tornado, the news became worse and worse until it was almost not possible to listen to it. Tonight the police is confirming 85 dead young people on the Utøya island and 7 dead people in Oslo.

Norway is a small country. Many of us know people who have lost someone in these tragic events. The shadow of this day will fall over us for a long time to come.

As YMCA we bow our heads in solidarity with and respect for the AUF, the Young Social Democrats of Norway, and together with them we mourn every single one of the young people they and we have lost.

The youth organisations of the world will speak at the United Nations on Monday, speak to the world. Young people are vulnerable. There will be an important message from the youth organisations on Monday. May the world listen.

In Norway today we hear the sound of silence. Silence after screams and shooting and death.

In Somalia there is an ongoing sound of war and pain from hunger and draught.

Children and young people are vulnerable. We saw it in Norway. We see it in Somalia.

Our work as youth organisations is going on. No war or terror or violence is going to stop us.

We are fighting for a better world, with love and stamina, with strength and conviction, with solidarity and justice.

I believe in Jesus Christ. He who gave his life for us is still in the suffering of those innocent victims, on Utøya, in Somalia and in every corner of this world where human beings are suffering. And we are stumbling forward in his footsteps, to come as close as we can to those in need of our solidarity.

Dear friends. I needed to write these words when words are difficult to find. Thank you for all the heart warming messages of friendship!


  1. […] Johan Vilhelm Eltvik, der auch aus Norwegen kommt, und zur Zeit in Genf wohnt, schreibt zu den schrecklichen Ereignissen auch etwas in seinem Blog: YOUNG LIVES LOST […]

  2. Thanks Johan for sharing this
    Our sincere condolences to the Youth and Norwegian families. We are a global family and we are all affected. We are committed to fight all extremisms and make sure our youth are reals Citizens

    • Thank you, Carlos, S2C is a vaccination against evil and hopelessness. We will fight even harder.

  3. Dear Johan,
    I feel close to you in your mind and words.
    I am so sorry to see that humanity is going through very hard times, so difficult to understand.
    Our task is to bring hope and opportunity for a better life for all people.
    Working with society, young people along elders, children, families, communities is our aim and hope.
    Thank you for leading our organization. I am sure that Rómulos voice on behalf of the YMCA will have a tremendous impact in many organizations and forums. Let us go ahead and do what we have to do to make this world a better place for everyone.

    • Thank you, Fernando, your words are my words. We will never give up. If possible, this will make us do even more.

  4. Dear Rev. Dr. Johan Vilhelm,

    Thank you so much for you deep and sensitive reflection on youth, life and faith. We need to be strong and never give up praying for our children and youth. It does not matter where they are as you mention. They could be in a small and rich country as Norway or in a poor and suffering one as Somalia. Lack of love and respect for human life is unfortunately part of our daily life.

    We just have our faith and belief in Jesus Christ for facing theses circumstances. Let’s pray the Serenity Prayer
    “God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

    We are all very proud about the YMCA and about a Latinamerican young person as Romulo, who will represent youth’s voice.

    Receive our sympathies and condolences, on behalf of the Santiago YMCA, Chile. We are with you.

    Alejandra Moline – International Program Director

    • Dear Alejandra,
      We wake up to this terrible pain every morning and read new aspects of the evil that unfolded on that small island. Your considerate words reach my soul and give some comfort. Thank you.

  5. Thanks Johan, for this reflection on the unfortunate tragic event in Norway. My heart goes out to you and the people of Norway, particularly the families who have lost dear ones in the incomprehensible act of terror. My 12-year old son was almost in tears when he broke the news to me when I returned home about the massacre of children in Utøya. May this event and the situation in Somalia make us, the YMCA, more resolute to tackle evil in our society and fight for the dignity and continuation of the human race.

    • Thank you, James, and give your son a big hug from me. I realize these days how important friendship is. Friendship is what we in the YMCA is all about, and friendship and love shall build the future. Sometimes we think less of these everyday values. I firmly and deeply believe that friendship and love, as practiced and demonstrated by all the NGOs we are proud to be associated with, are far more important than weapons and superpowers and all the pretentious power-games we see around us.

  6. Dear Johan Vilhelm
    thank you for trying to find words for what has happened.
    My thoughts are with you and the people of Norway.
    We all live in one world as a global family,
    let us stand together in love, hope and peace,

    • Thank you, Helen, for these nice words!

      Johan Vilhelm

  7. If you wrote an article about life we’d all reach enilhgtennmet.

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