For the next week and a half all profits from sales of my work at work.haverholm.com will go to the fundraising campaign started by Mattias Elftorp on Facebook to help an elderly migrant in our neighborhood get the heart surgery he needs.
Mattias and I both regularly meet the man in question. For a few years now, he has sat outside the local shopping centre begging for change. He is practically a fixture of the area – yet I don’t even know his name. We don’t share enough of a language to get beyond “hello” and “thanks”, but he must be in his sixties, his face all wrinkles and gray beard. Everyday we meet and greet each other, I let him have what pennies I can spare, and there’s more of a neighborly relationship in that transaction than I share with the people in my apartment building.
Last winter was rough, particularly from late January on. I can’t say exactly when he disappeared from the spot in front of the shopping centre, but when it sank in that he may have become a victim to the freezing cold I felt sad, and guilty for my own relative comfort and security. So when he returned in spring, out of the blue, I was so relieved that I hugged him immediately. In his broken Spanish (which is still better than mine), he explained that he had fallen over from a heart attack right there, at the entrance to the mall where we always met.
He had been rushed to hospital for treatment and nursed back to health over a few weeks – before he was shipped home as an outsider to the Swedish health care system. Where “home” is I’m not certain, did he say Romania? I had trouble parsing and absorbing all the information in Spanish, but his tone was urgent. He wanted me to know what had happened, where he had been, and that he was happy to see me again. As I said, my Spanish is very basic, but I tried to tell him that I was glad he was back, and in decent health.
Clearly, Mattias’ language skills are better than mine: He has learned that our friend urgently needs heart surgery, and for reasons I can’t completely discern he needs to pay something like 4000 Swedish Kronor for the procedure. It is probably because he is a foreign citizen, and almost certainly thanks to the hard-right turn that Swedish politics has taken, that he isn’t secured by common health care services. Mattias has set up an informal fund raising campaign on Facebook to cover his medical costs, and although I dearly want to contribute directly, I barely have money for myself and my family this month.
That is why I invite anybody who has been holding out on buying original art from my online store to make a purchase now, in support of my favourite neighbour’s health, a man whose name I don’t know. All profits (that is, sales price minus shipping costs) will go into Mattias’ fund raising. The campaign has a hard deadline on 20 December when the surgery is scheduled for, so please do not put off your contribution. As I understand it, it is actually make or break whether the procedure can go through.
If you really dislike my work, please consider donating directly to Mattias’ fundraiser (in Swedish, and as all things Facebook it’s kind of walled-off, members-only). Thank you.