Join a great networking opportunity for internationals in Esbjerg with the International Men's (and Women's) Club.
Text: Nikolaos Papadopoulos
The club is one of several of the church's initiatives to help immigrants and refugees settle in the country. The club was started by Poul Nielsen 8 years ago. The idea was to create a place where men (and women, respectively) could gather and socialise regardless of culture, religion, or origin. While everyone is welcome to join, most members are non-Danes, with most coming from Eritrea and Somalia.
While it sounds like a social club, its focus is still primarily humanitarian. Sponsored by Folkekirkens Tværkulturelle Center (the church's cross-cultural centre) and headed up by Lars Kristiansen, the club provides members with practical information about integration, taxes and Danish state procedures that might seem daunting to a newcomer to the country. The church also offers its own free Danish language lessons in its similarly focused Language Café initiative!
“My job is similar to my old one, as many people here mourn the loss of their homes, countries, and loved ones. It is essential, especially in these strange times, to never lose your compassion, even though we might have become desensitised to tragedy.”
I have also personally participated in the church's initiatives, and speaking with other participants, I can see that the club is indeed helping people settle in the country, and for those forced to flee their own, it is a crucial lifeline towards inclusion in Denmark.
Lars, a former funeral director who wanted to try something new, is very proud of the club's work. Leading the club is part of his job as the church's responsibility for cultural issues. He modestly says he is still learning the ropes as the recently appointed leader, but he is very optimistic about the future. "My job is similar to my old one", he says, "as many people here mourn the loss of their homes, countries, and loved ones". It is essential, especially in these strange times, to never lose your compassion, even though we might have become desensitised to tragedy.