30 March 2017

THE Salvation Army in Sweden hosted a visit by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf to a centre in the Stockholm suburb of Akalla. For 21 years, the Salvation Army centre in Akalla has been working to break the isolation and social exclusion that is experienced by many immigrant women, helping them and their children to learn Swedish and supporting them in their efforts to find employment. 

Commissioner Eva Kleman (Territorial President of Women's Ministries) gave a short introduction and welcome before handing over to the head of the centre, Jenny Alm. Having described the centre's work and the needs of the women it serves, Jenny introduced Rahel, who told the King about her personal development.

Rahel arrived in Sweden as a 17-year-old refugee having been a victim of human trafficking in Saudi Arabia for five years. After one year in Sweden she went to a Salvation Army shelter and started to study Swedish. Now, seven years after arriving in Sweden, she has found work as an assistant nurse and has got her dignity back.

The reason the King visited the centre was to meet Madeleine Sundell, The Salvation Army's Social Justice Secretary and National Anti-Human Trafficking Coordinator. In 2009 Madeleine was awarded the Kompassros [Compass Rose] Scholarship from the King's Foundation for Young Leadership, which is given annually to a young leader who has proven exceptional courage, concern and decisiveness. 

Madeleine spoke about what the scholarship has meant to her, explaining: 'Today I can say that I have followed my dream and been loyal to my values, and I have grown in leadership. I want to use the law as a tool for social justice and the transformation of vulnerable people's living conditions.'

The King then met the foreign-born women who are being assisted through the centre. They invited him to join them for coffee and an international cake buffet they had prepared, featuring recipes from all over the world, before Commissioner Kleman concluded the visit by praying for God's blessing on everyone present.

Report by Lars Beijer

Tags: Europe, Refugees in Europe, News