I don’t feel foreign in Denmark. I have three children who go to school, I work as a graphic printer, and come home and lead a close-knit life with the family.
During the 1980s there was a war going on between the Tamil Tigers and the government. Tamils were discriminated against and persecuted, and my cousin said to me, "Selvam, you have to leave the country." I was 19 years old. My cousin arranged everything. Flights, a warm jacket, a bag to carry it all in. But I had no idea I was going to Denmark. On the one hand I just wanted to survive. On the other hand, I was worried about leaving family and friends. And then there was the anxiety. For a long time after my arrival in Denmark I couldn't sleep at night. My first impression was: “Damn, it’s cold here.” I got a cab from the airport to the Central Station. I remember that the taxi driver told me in English: "Here in Denmark you can't trust the weather or the women."
At the Central Station I went to the police, and they sent me to Sandholmlejren. It was a bit of a culture shock, queuing up to get a slice of bread. But today I have a good life here, and I count myself lucky having been allowed to live in Denmark. Life is a gift, and I try to focus on the good things: I am married, the children go to school, I talk with a printing machine all day, so I love to return home and speak a human language with my family.
Selvam Sambantham / 52 / male / married / three children / graphic printer / Aabenraa / from Sri Lanka / came to Denmark in 1987 / residence permit 1988 / citizenship 1995