In a remarkable show of hospitality,over 11,000 families in Iceland have volunteered to help accommodate Syrian refugees in their homes after their government indicated Iceland would accept only 50 asylum seekers a year.
The offers were in response to a Facebook appeal by Icelandic author Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir, who set up a Facebook page to galvanise support for the cause with an open letter to the minister for welfare in which she sought to demonstrate the level of public goodwill towards refugees, and to highlight their potential benefits to the nation.
Writing in support of asylum seekers,she stressed that “They are our future spouses, best friends, the next soul mate, a drummer for our children’s band, the next colleague, Miss Iceland in 2022, the carpenter who finally finishes the bathroom, the cook in the cafeteria, a fireman and television host,”.
“People of whom we’ll never be able to say in the future: ‘Your life is worth less than my life.’’
One of the offers to help was from Hekla Stefansdottir,who wrote that ‘I’m a single mother with a 6-year-old son… We can take a child in need. I’m a teacher and would teach the child to speak, read and write Icelandic and adjust to Icelandic society. We have clothes, a bed, toys and everything a child needs. I would of course pay for the airplane ticket,’.
This incredible show of compassion is coming from a small country with a population of about 300,000 people.