Since 1995 the night-café at Stengade 40 has provided the homeless people of Copenhagen a proper sleep, hot meal and tea or coffee. Stengade 40 is the only place in Copenhagen where foreigners can get in – all the other places are only for people with a CPR-number and a permanent residence in Denmark. Due to the horrible economic situation, they’re bound to shut down in january 2013. To lighten the economy, there’s a 3-week long summerholiday right now, which results in people sleeping in the park. To make them get a good nights sleep, some volunteers started a “café” that serves tea and coffee for the homeless sleeping there. Their help is much needed since the nights are cold and often very wet. Mainly people from Africa and Romania comes here. This is the first couple of interviews with some of the users from Folkets Park coffee-café.
Photos and words by Lasse Kofod. Thanks for the great translationhelp, Sabrina.
My name is Serban. I am fifty years old and comes from Romania. Me, my wife, Rosalia, and her parents travelled to Denmark about 3 months ago. We were told that there are jobs to get here, so we thought it could be exciting to go to another country and work for the summer. We bought a ticket to get to Copenhagen, but was left on the highway around 50 km south of Copenhagen. There was nothing else to do, so we walked the rest of the way. In Copenhagen we met some others from Rumania and got some hints and tips on how to live up here. Though I’ve been working in Spain and Italy at wineyards picking grapes, I found out that there was no jobs to get, and no flats to move in to. So we grouped up with some of the others and now we’ve lived in Folkets Park for a long time, sleeping on mattresses which we found in the garbage around town. Now we’re living of warm-hearted people like Monika (from the Night Café) who helps us when we need it, we’re trying to earn enough money to buy a ticket home to our house and family.
My name is Florentin. I am thirty-four years old. My wife, Carmen and I live forty kilometers outside a big city in Romania. Carmen has a 19-yeard old daughter who just gave birth to a healthy kid. I have an education as a car-painter, but there’s no jobs to find in that business in Romania, so like the rest of the guys from our camp here in Folkets Park, we are searching for jobs to get. Even though Denmark is cold, and the lack of summer doesn’t really help, we’re trying to get the best of it. We organize – some takes care of the camp and others go on the street to collect refund or find stuff we can use for the camp. It’s very cold at night, so a warm jacket can help you get a proper sleep for the night. We have a small farm back home, growing vegetables and selling them at the local market – we thought we could use the skills from this in Denmark, but no luck yet. We have to be inventive and stay together in our group in order to survive. Hopefully we’ll earn enough money to get home and see our family soon.
I’m Manuel. I’m forty years old. I come from Romania, and since it’s a poor country I felt forced to search for jobs in other countries to feed my wife and kids at home. I’ve been here for just over a month, and haven’t found a job to earn good money of, so I’ve been collecting refund since I arrived. I was at Roskilde Festival with a group of other Romanians. Since I’m from the countryside it was a great shock for me to see all these drunk teenagers. Especially the young, pretty women who’d sit around men taking a piss. I think the danes are beautiful, but their drinking habits doesn’t suit me. I could only affort to be at Roskilde for two days, I collected for almost one thousand kroner which is what the ticket home costs. Hopefully I’ll leave next thursday, but I’ve heard the bus is almost fully booked.