Joie de vivre

Infectious joie de vivre and room for teenagers

Basil Amin and Basma Al- Yousif like a lot of space and love living in the country. That's why they moved in 2007 from a flat in Ribe to Sdr. Hygum, where they bought a wonderful house with enough rooms for their three teenage children.

The middle of nowhere?
It was a bit of a coincidence that they chose Sdr. Hygum. "We knew nobody in Sdr. Hygum before we moved here, but we received a warm welcome - we even received many flowers," smiles Basma happily.

The family is delighted with Sdr. Hygum. "We weren't used to living in a flat and we love living in the country. That's why we're delighted with our house here in Sdr. Hygum," says Basil. They wanted to have enough space that each of the children could have their own room. That made it more difficult to find a suitable house and even more so a flat. In Sdr. Hygum, though, they found a wonderful house with plenty of space and a large garden at an affordable price. And the three teenagers are delighted that they now have their own rooms.

The good life in a charming village - in the country, yet close to town
"We've got almost everything we need here in Sdr. Hygum, and what we don't we can quickly get hold of in Ribe, Rødding or Vejen," says Basil. If the family wants to see a film or go swimming, they usually visit the centre in the neighbouring town of Rødding. The family also thinks that Vejen Sports Centre is a great place.
In Sdr. Hygum there's a supermarket, nursery, community centre, local museum and - not least - the church, which Basma often visits. The bus stops almost right outside. The family's children enjoy runs with their dog, Storm, and cycling in the beautiful countryside. "All that we missed was a safe route for the children to cycle to Rødding. And even that wish was fulfilled two years ago when a bicycle path to Rødding was built," laughs Basma.

Space for hobbies
Besides a room for each of the children, the move to Sdr. Hygum has also given better space for hobbies. Basil spends much of his limited free time on music and painting. Most of the paintings in the house have been painted by Basil. The girls also paint. Basil made good use of his creative skills at the Art Museum in Vejen, where he worked briefly.

The family is also delighted with the large garden, where they grow their own vegetables, both in the greenhouse and in the vegetable plot. They have also planted several fruit trees and make jam and cakes from the berries.

To paradise
The family comes from Iraq. Twelve years ago, they couldn't have dreamt of the life they live today. Basil had been in the Iraqi army for ten miserable years. When he was recalled, he chose to flee Baghdad instead, arriving in Denmark via Northern Iraq. As Basil's flight would put Basma and the children in danger, they too had to flee. Without passports, however, they came no further than to Jordan.

Basma and the children finally arrived in Denmark on 12 August 2004. "Sitting in the car on the way from the airport, looking at the wonderful green landscape and the beautiful houses, I asked Basil if he lived in paradise," laughs Basma happily. "We've celebrated the date of our arrival in Denmark ever since."

"Here in Denmark, we've met helpfulness and efficiency. We haven't had so much contact with the municipal authorities as we've both had jobs. But everyday services like rubbish collection and recycling centres function perfectly.
Vejen Municipality also provided the necessary support when we needed it. When, for example, I applied for support for supplementary training within my profession," says Basma appreciatively.

Education and work are important
Education and work are important to Basil and Basma. Their children share that attitude and all three are taking an education.

Amin is attending VUC with a view to going on to technical college to become a production assistant or technical designer. It is important to Amin that he completes an education and finds work despite his hearing disability. Both Mariam and Dalia are high school students, and Dalia hopes to become a vet or pharmacist.

Basil qualified as a dairy engineer in Iraq, a qualification which is approved in Denmark. He's found it difficult to find work within his profession, though. Today, Basil works for Valsemøllen in Esbjerg, preparing flour mixes for bakers and others.

Just two years after arriving in Denmark, and while still attending language classes, Basma became a cashier, her first job in Denmark. Basma qualified as an architectural engineer in Iraq. The five years she spent studying have been approved in Denmark as corresponding to four years of a degree in architecture. In order to utilise her education, however, she'd have to supplement it with a two-year master's degree taken in either Aarhus or Copenhagen.
Instead, Basma decided to supplement her education with a degree in building engineering. Although the course takes three and a half years, Basma had heard that it would give better employment opportunities. Basma took the course at Business Academy South-West in Esbjerg, and graduated as a building engineer in January 2013 with a splendid 10 in her thesis and 7 in her final project.

Interview held in March 2013