After The 'Positive' – Part I
I just got 'positive'. It was only five months since I applied for asylum. It is unbelievable. Asylum cases differ; some take more than a year due to lack of supporting evidence. Now, a new chapter of my life can begin.
“I felt a sigh of relief and excitement filled my mind, I was psychologically changed the moment I received the letter from the authorities granting me residence permission.”
Usually, an asylum seeker receives tons of official letters from different offices every month, most of the letters are sent by the job centre [the office in an asylum centre that deals with admin, education and training, Ed.]. In the asylum centres there is a notice board with a postal list that you have to check every morning. All the letters are in Danish and so you have to find someone to translate for you. Often, asylum seekers ask friends who know a little Danish to translate, but I was using a free Danish-English online translation website.
One Thursday morning, I received a letter, I could see that the sender was the Immigration Service, but I was not sure what it was all about it until I pasted it to the translation site. ‘Nooooooo… I can’t believe it!!!!!!’ I copied it in again and asked the web to translate it again to be sure. Yes, the same result, it is about my residence permission. It is about NÆSTVED Kommune who will receive me. It is a legal description of the terms of my permit. It was also about the integration programme. That was on 2nd March 2009.
The interim period
Before the positive every asylum seeker looks forward to the time when they will have the right to work and study. They also expect that they will get more money in the form of the monthly living allowance. When the day came, what first came to my mind was the family I had left behind and hopes for family reunification.
After you are informed about the positive in your case, several things happen. Here, at Avnstrup Centre the Red Cross staff congratulate most sincerely; at the reception I received warm congratulations, in the office they got warmer.
Here I handed over the security entry card, the keys to my room and the padlocks to my cupboards. An official meeting with the Red Cross officer at the centre followed for filling several forms and an interview about my personal history, career, education and hobbies. I also had to fill and sign a form for the Immigration Service confirming my full name, date of birth and nationality. On the form there’s space for your personal signature and square to put passport size photo. The Red Cross officer explained that it is for the residence permission ID, and asked me to send it back to the IS.
In this meeting we also discussed a transportation plan – in my case how to move to Næstved and how much luggage I have and so on.
The Danish Language test
Before I moved to Næstved the Red Cross office in Copenhagen called me in for a Danish language test in writing and reading. The consultant explained that there are 3 tracks (or streams) in the Danish for foreigners' education; track one is for illiterate people, track 2 is for those who attended the basic primary education and track 3 is for those who had higher education in their original country.
The consultant informed me that I deserve to start with level 3/1 (track 3 level 1, Ed.) and results were sent to the sprogskole (language school, Ed.) to book me in on the right course.
The integration programme
The integration programme is a three year programme that provides several remarkable opportunities to the refugees. The aim is for new residents to learn and understand the language, law, culture and political structure of the country. Once you get the positive to live in Denmark you need to know much about the Integration law and opportunities. Almost everything you want to know can be found on the website www.newindenmark.dk (www.nyidanmark.dk).
I strongly recommend every one who gets residence permission to visit the site, which is in several languages.
From Copenhagen to the kommune [municipality, Ed.]
Næstved kommune takes a number of refugees every year. Before you arrive the kommune has all your legal documents and C.V. so that they can plan to receive you. They organize a place for you to live and arrange your transportation and send the right sized vehicle that can accommodate your entire personal luggage.
My first day in Næstved
March 2nd, I got call from Mrs. June from Næstved Job Centre; she told me that she will meet me at the train station at 10 am. She advised that I should take the train that leaves Copenhagen at 9:03. She also told me that Abdirahman, who also just got positive and is moving to Næstved, will also be on the train.
Upon our arrival, June was there and showed us a very warm welcome. She took us to the Job centre and introduced us to Mr. Keeth (my contact person). Keeth is well-experienced and has been in Næstved for more than a decade. After a short briefing, Keeth and June took us to the Danske Bank and opened an account for each of us.
We made quick city tour in Keeth’s private car until we reached Næstved municipality centre where we met people in the financial section and filled out several forms relating to financial and health matters.
At 1:00 pm we came back to the Job Centre, where June and Keeth surprised us by inviting us to a lunch that they had pre-arranged.
NGOs and luxury
After a delightful lunch we had an introductory meeting with two women from Sam-X, a local NGO that is in partnership with the Danish Refugee Council. This group always welcomes the new arrivals and helps them discover the city sites and the shopping centres and also organizes weekly community meetings to help integration. Sam-X informed us that they also have some volunteers who give practice in Danish conversation.
In the afternoon we continued the city tour to see the main facilities including our doctor’s premises. Keeth and June reserved no effort on this first day to meet our all basic needs. Eventually, they took us to our temporary residence at a luxury tourist hotel named Karrebæksminde Feriecenter located on a small Island called Enø.
Soon, after a week of rest and time to get settled, I started at Næstved Language School. This school teaches at various levels and has outstanding resources. It hosts more than 100 students who are committed to learning Danish. I would like here to emphasis that Næstved Language School has very experienced and professional teachers. I appreciate the eagerness of my first level teachers, Ingrid and Michail. They equip us with basic Danish sentences in just four weeks using remarkable teaching techniques which strongly attract the attention of all participants.
Now I am able to speak with Danish people!
Read part 2 in New Times #79 (download below)…