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!