Norwegian Language Blog

A Radiator for Norway Posted by on Nov 30, 2012 in Norway and the world

For many Norwegians, it is viktig å hjelpe andre [VEEktee aw YELpeh ANN-dreh] (important to help others). Norway is one of the world’s richest countries, and a lot of people feel they should share a bit of this rikdom (wealth) with fattige land (poor countries). Organizations like Røde kors (Red Cross), Redd barna (Save the Children) and Kirkens nødhjelp (The Church’s Humanitarian Aid) do an awful lot of good work. The older Norwegian schoolchildren also participate in Operasjon dagsverk (”Mission: A Day’s Work”) each year. That is a day where you do some work for free – like cleaning or selling kaker (cakes) at the market place. Your salary is then given to en god sak (a worthy cause).

Norwegians also like to help hverandre (each other). There is a really nice tradition called dugnad [DOOG-nad]. That basically means that a group of people get together to help each other. It could be teachers and parents joining forces to paint a school, for example.

Norway’s naboer (neighbours) sometimes accuse the Norwegians of being self-righteous. The Norwegians, of course, can then accuse their neighbours of being jealous of their ”helping spirit”! 😉 Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norwegian PM in the 1980’ies and 1990’ies, famously said: Det er typisk norsk å være god. (Being good is typically Norwegian.) I guess her saying it was rather typically Norwegian! 🙂

But let’s get to the story… If you haven’t seen it yet, there is a Norwegian mock-campaign currently sweeping the internet:

Radi-aid – Africa for Norway

Fed ud with

  • the typical Norwegian tradition of always being the helper
  • the typical ideas many Norwegians (and Westerners) have about Africa,

SAIH – ”The Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund” – has turned the traditional aid campaigns upside-down.

Instead of Norwegians helping poor Africans, it is now Africans who are encouraged to help the freezing Norwegians – by donating radiators!

A great way of challenging people’s preconceived ideas, don’t you think?

Check it out on

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.