Visit in Mother Tongue has been developed by World’s Women Denmark. The organization has multicultural female members from 30 countries, and the women demonstrate a thorough understanding of Danish culture as well as their own origins.
A growing number of senior citizens were born with an ethnic background other than Danish, and many of those citizens find themselves isolated and without any good family connections and strong network. The Danish organization provides an opportunity for vulnerable and lonely senior citizens to benefit from visits by volunteers with whom they share a native language. Despite the name of the organization, World’s Women Denmark also provides the opportunity for a male visitor in some languages.
These women know about their own history, culture and traditions which allows for an immediate and common understanding between the women and the elderly, also on an emotional level. To gain a lasting beneficial effect, the visitors will need training to ensure that they know the basic rules and to enable them to assess a potential need for other types of professional aid.
Retention of volunteers may be difficult at times, application of high professional standards equally. For those reasons the project will be based solidly on know-how and contribute with new input. The primary aim – to relieve feelings of loneliness due to linguistic and cultural barriers – will include development of methods to retain volunteers for longer periods resulting in continuity and a stronger professional backbone.
The initiative may also make volunteers of immigrant origin feel welcome in Denmark. Their native tongue will be an important tool in addressing and resolving societal challenges.
The project is scheduled to close in 2021.
Christine E. Swane and Pernille Bülow Pedersen of EGV Foundation will be monitoring the project. A concluding report will follow.