Annual charity drive raised millions

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Norwegians donated more than NOK 208 million (USD 38 million) on Sunday to help rid the world of land mines, and organizers called the result of the annual national fundraiser “fantastic.” The amount looked set to beat the result of last year’s campaign, which aimed to help refugees.

Norwegian People's Aid raised more than NOK 208 million to help clear land mines on Sunday. PHOTO: Norsk Folkehjelp

The so-called TV-aksjonen aired by Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) is a major event that has selected a worthy cause and then involved thousands of Norwegians from celebrities and top politicians to ordinary folks every year since 1974. They conduct a fund-raising telethon on the air, hold auctions, roam the streets and ring doorbells seeking donations for the organization selected to benefit from the massive charity drive.

This year all money raised went to Norsk Folkehjelp (Norwegian People’s Aid), one of Norway’s largest humanitarian organizations. It will use the funds to remove land mines and cluster bombs in six countries: Bosnia-Hercegovina, Lebanon, Laos, Vietnam, Sør-Sudan and Tajikistan.

Per Nergaard, who leads the work done by Norsk Folkehjelp’s mine division, called the result “fantastic,” telling NRK that it “shows the Norwegian people support the important work of clearing away land mines.” The amount raised will allow the organization “to remove more mines and save more lives” than expected, Nergaard said.

Money was still coming in after celebrity-staffed phone lines shut down and the door-to-door operations ended. People who weren’t home when collectors came calling or failed to give on Sunday were being asked to phone in automatic donations of NOK 200, to telephone number 820 44 110.

Among those out collecting on Sunday was Marsela Murselovic, who fled to Norway as a child from Bosnia-Hercegovina  19 years ago. “I was born in Bosnia and feel very touched by this year’s fundraiser,” Murselovic told newspaper Aftenposten. “It feels good to be able to contribute.”

There were a few problems: NRK reported Monday morning that three persons who signed up for the street and door-do-door campaign and received the official containers to collect cash ended up making off with the money. At least one had used a false identification card, and all three cases have been reported to police.

With more than 12,000 participating in collection efforts, though, the fraud was miniscule. NRK reported that residents of Asker, west of Oslo, donated the most money on average, while Oslo’s affluent Frogner district donated the most within the capital.

Several auctions were also held during the course of the campaign. A private lecture to be delivered by Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre raised NOK 120,000, a concert with Kaizers Orchestra raised NOK 200,000 and  a quilt sewn by senior citizens raised NOK 10,500.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund