Camilla has been volunteering at Marita Cafe for nearly three years, and knows many of the regulars quite well. Her mission is to help people get rid of the life they have: Nobody wants to be a drug addict.
Camilla was one of the 500, 000 students who saw the Marita film by Leiv Holstad when it toured in schools in the 90s and 80s. When her own daughter turned 20, Camilla suggested she should volunteer at Marita Cafe to gain perspective by meeting people from different walks of life. After most businesses close in the evening, Marita Cafe on Dronningens gate opens its doors.
The people who come here need a warm place to rest, they are very kind, they have a very special story and are not dangerous. They appreciate so much that you just talk to them in a friendly way.
The foundation, with its dandelion logo in the window, has been at the current location since 1996. From Monday to Friday, volunteers sell very reasonably priced rice porridge and give out hot drinks, as well as foods donated by nearby neighbours. The Cafe also offers clean clothes, advice, piano, art materials, encouragement and perhaps most importantly, respect.
My mission to be here is to give them respect, because out there on the street, they don’t get a lot of that from people.
Camilla has seen and heard many heart wrenching life stories that rarely end with ‘...happily ever after’. Sexual abuse and children born with opioid addiction are common. Many have ADHD.
At the end of the night here, sometimes I feel a little sad because of the stories, but even if I arrive tired, I never leave tired. It is very uplifting because I focus in knowing that regardless of the past, there’s always hope for the future and I can do my bit to help.