One person paid just over NOK 100,000 to have lunch with Finance Minister Siv Jensen, with a tour of the finance ministry afterwards. Someone else paid NOK 205,500 for a trip to the remote Arctic Island of Jan Mayen, accessible only by military aircraft. Lots of other unusual bidding and generous giving among the general public in Norway raised a record NOK 240 million on Sunday afternoon and evening, with all the money earmarked to provide clean water for refugees and the poor in eight countries.
The auction portion of the annual TV charity drive, organized and sponsored by Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), raised NOK 2 million alone, and bidding was spirited. Other unique experiences up for bid included a private concert with popular Norwegian Sigvart Dagsland, a ride on an Oslo tram with the popular band De Lillos and a ski trip to “a secure province” of Afghanistan. They were all sold for NOK 42,000, 101,000 and 61,000 respectively, reported NRK on Monday.
The beneficiary this year was the humanitarian organization Kirkens Nødhjelp (Norwegian Church Aid), which was delighted by the response and collected more money than expected. That means that even more people will benefit from the organization’s special expertise in drilling wells and providing clean water systems around the world.
The organization had hoped for NOK 200 million to provide 1 million people in eight countries (Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tanzania and Haiti). With an extra NOK 40 million, and more money still trickling in on Monday, organization officials were already planning to expand their projects to serve more people.
Kirkens Nødhjelp, one of Norway’s most active humanitarian organizations, had stressed that 780 million people around the world lack access to clean water. Many people have to walk miles every day to the nearest well, many of them children who thus are prevented from going to school. The lack of clean water also presents severe health hazards.
Campaigns had thus been running on local media in Norway all week, preparing the public for the large groups of volunteers who were out ringing doorbells and approaching people on the streets to give money. Around 100,000 Norwegians volunteered at the grass roots levels, while other charity efforts in the form of rallies, cake raffles and entertainment went on around the country Sunday afternoon and evening. It was all aired by NRK in a lengthy broadcast throughout Sunday night.
NRK’s annual charitable TV-aksjon was also celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. It backs a different worthy cause every year and 15 organizations had applied to be this year’s beneficiary, with Kirkens Nødhjelp’s clean water projects winning. Earlier charity drives have benefited programs carried out by such humanitarian organizations as the Norwegian Refugee Council, Doctors Without Borders, CARE, Amnesty Norway and Norwegian People’s Aid.