Gerard Niyongabo

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Despite having been in Denmark for more than two decades, I am still 62% foreign. That is also how most people see me, but my children are 100% Danish. I often dream about being able to return to Burundi one day and then use what I have learned in Denmark about thinking collectively rather than individually. I feel a great responsibility for the people who were left behind in Burundi, so staying here for the rest of my life would be to let them down.

I grew up in a society where men have a natural authority in the families because they earn the money, but I have children in a country where both the child benefit system and a female orientated labour market challenge this authority. The gender roles in the family change when the man is no longer the sole earner.

My wife goes to work, and we share the housework, so I am forced to be a man in a very different way to my father. This can be challenging, because certain traditions and perceptions are still deeply rooted in you. The Danish system, where the municipality practically own the children, also challenges the close relationship between parents and their children. Instead of primarily supporting the parents to be good parents, the municipality focuses only on the children, thus overlooking the generation of parents, whose authority is already weakened, because the children become better Danish speakers than their parents. This has consequences for the family, which should otherwise be the core of society.

49 years / male / in a relationship / children / financial officer / Tingbjerg / from Burundi / came to Denmark in 1995 / residence permit in 1997