Bente Haulund Madsen
When I in 2011 for the first time saw an Indian film, Shabana Azmi had one of the lead roles, her immense talent had me google her name to see which movies she had starred in. A link to Mijwan Welfare Society, among many other links, popped up on the screen and it caught my attention. Before I decided to travel to Mijwan, I had followed and supported MWS for 1½ years online.
I have been in Mijwan twice. The first time was in 2013, the second time in 2016. It was wonderful to meet people in Mijwan again, the bond we tied in 2013, is still evident.
You will see pictures of me standing on my feet and sitting in a wheelchair. Due to sclerosis I now need a wheelchair fulltime.
Often people have asked me, "how on earth do you dare to go so far away alone", the questions have surprised me, and the answer, I believe, lies in what I describe about myself.
The little girl is me
In many ways until now, I have had a life different from most people. Born into and raised in a deaf-culture with sign language as my mother tongue. I was born in what we call the deaf-house, a house with apartments where only deaf were allowed to live. The building had a large common room with a stage. The stage was an important part of the room for lectures, general meetings, celebrations and theater.
Throughout my childhood my parents were engaged in associations for the deaf, and it seems to have rubbed off on me. When I was seventeen, I became a board member for the first time, it was in a youth club for young deaf people and young with deaf parents. Later I became involved in various movements, particularly in the women's movement from 1974 - 1984 with a break of two years.
The Sahara Desert
From 1977 - 1979 I went to an alternative high school, part of the program was a four-month trip to Ghana; 100 students and ten teachers sharing 10 old buses and 2 trucks filled with spare parts. The trip went all the way from Denmark through Europe and the Sahara desert to Ghana, and when there were problems with the buses, we had to fix them ourselves. On the journey back three of us hitchhiked from Algeria all the way to Denmark because we wanted to have four days in France and the buses were running slowly.
Today I live with my family in a community; beside our own houses, we have a common house for activities and events.
And I spend most of my time on Denmark-Mijwan Friendship Organization, as representative of Mijwan in DK, work for awareness of people with disabilities and I am board member of the European Movement/DK Aarhus local branch.