God speaks us through people, that’s for sure, and makes miracles through their wonderful hearts. When you decide to put yourself in public service, to do nothing else but good for those in need, without expecting anything in return, just being happy that you can do something for the others, that’s certainly a moment when someone from above had sent you on earth to change in a good direction people’s lives, to guide their steps, to touch their hearts. Daniel Solheim (47 years old) and his wife, Angela, are certainly this kind of people. For seven years, they had been guardian angels for thousands of Romanian roma people from Oslo, Norway, and small towns around. They had taught them about love, God, trust, shared with them food and all their hearts, taught them to read, to send their children to school, not to marry their children early, to hug, not to beg, and so many more. I couldn’t have written a more appropriate story on Christmas Eve – it has so much unconditional love, dedication, a wonderful wish to help and do good, “love the people near you as much as you love yourself”.
Daniel has a wonderful, inspirational story – he left Romania in 1990 after graduating highschool, stayed in Austria for a few years, worked hard, then got to Norway more than 20 years ago and started from scratch, with everything. He worked hard, had different jobs, moved from one town to another, has advanced step by step, got a bachelor degree, worked as social pedagog, in institutions for people with mental disabilities, in child protection, also. Today, he works as state certified interpreter, Romanian-Norwegian, working with Norwegian public institutions such as police, courts or hospitals. His wife, Angela, is a former high school colleague and they had met again online, after many years. Together, they had written an amazing story in public service, for the good of those who most reject and far too few help.
Nobody’s beggars, God’s people
It was in 2012 when the Norwegian police had an action on a bigger group of roma people, in Oslo. “It was a more detailed control of people who were sleeping in that area, and that experience made me think about their situation, that maybe I could do something, I felt the call”, Daniel resumes today an experience that lasted for seven years and changed, in so many good ways, their lives.
It was just an idea, no location, no contacts, no money to rent a place, but things wonderfully arranged in the right direction – you know that feeling, when you simply feel that something was meant to happen and everything arranges in that direction, you get all the things you need without even asking. ”In October 2012 we already had a room in Oslo, at Marcus Church”, Daniel remembers. They started being there every Tuesday, from 5 to 8 PM, and Daniel made a promise, “God, if you had given me this place, I will give you my time”, like an unwritten contract, a promise written with heart. It was the end of October, and at the end of November first people entered the door. First 3-4 people and from that moment on thousands, 6.000 on a 2017 statistics, in three different locations.
“The intention was to have a place where those who come to be treated like humans, to restore their dignity, not to be afraid to hug them and treat them as if we were theirs and they were ours”, Daniel says.
Knowing God, you learn to know yourself
Miracles started like this – with God and his hands on the their heads and hearts, with hugs, good, wise words, songs and the lesson of love – a wonderful lesson, taught every day with heart. They sang Christian songs together, “at the beginning music united us, has become a binder between us”, Daniel says.
People blamed by most, avoided by many more, found there a place where they could feel like home, be themselves. “The idea was that, by knowing God, to learn to know themselves”, Angela explains. They started teaching them good, in everything – from personal hygiene to sending their children to school, how to raise them in a good way, how to act in men and wife relation, not to beg anymore – a huge accent on that, which the real values in life are.
Angela taught them to write and read. “They were so happy, were simply shinning when they succeeded in writing their names”, she remembers. And both her and Daniel remember Mariana – a woman of 50, looking of 75, who told them that for her Tuesday became the most beautiful and happy day of the week, because she knew she would go there to meet them.
First two years were without food, then Angela started to cook in their own kitchen, for the roma people. And brought the food at every meeting – “there were evenings when we had 43 people with us, we had all eaten from the same pot, half of them ate supplement, we had 4 breads and everyone left satiated”, Daniel remembers.
Three locations for thousands of souls
Next years, two more reunion meeting were opened, in Drammen and Tønsberg, small towns around Oslo. In every place were built memories and rebuilt destinies and hearts. In Drammen, one year, on Christmas, they went with torches in the center of the town, singing traditional Romanian Christmas songs – “colinde”. Symbolically, they had turned the glasses with bottom on top, to show they didn’t want money that night, they sang for the community, for those who had supported them.
Daniel and Angela did everything from their savings. Monthly, a percent of what they had earned was left for the program, cooked at home all the time, and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday went to meet roma people, talk to them, help them and eat together. They live in a rented house and certainly could’ve found another destination for those money, for themselves – but they had chosen with hearts, to do this, and say they feel so blessed for having the chance to do it and live such an incredible experience.
From the food cooked in their kitchen between 60-80 people ate every week – and got so much more beyond that. “They had learnt to read, in one year, from Gospel after Luca, we were reading one by one, we needed one year to finish it”, Daniel says.
Because of love
They had no regrets for their choice, on the contrary. Feel incredibly blessed and happy for this chance – to help so many good people to be better versions of themselves, the best one, in some cases, maybe. “All this time I had enough to be able to do this. I had chosen to listen to that incentive, I gave up many things but I haven’t lost anything, the joy of doing something for others, to be useful, is priceless and can’t be compared with anything”, Daniel says.
The program was stopped this year in March, after seven years. Daniel had a complicated surgery, it’s a time with a little bit more rest. This program is over, but their mission to do good for others certainly not. “We did this, not we are waiting for a new mandate”, Daniel says.
They continue to collaborate with the Evangelical Center from Oslo. Every Monday, they are there, Daniel translates for the roma people who come there. Twice a month, on Sunday, three of the women from the program come to their home, for lunch and chat for heart, and help whenever needed.
Daniel and Angela are happy for the chance they were given, to do good and help people to hope and trust. Not too many have a chance like this – God certainly chooses the right people, all the time. “I think that when God calls people to do something it’s not because they are extraordinary but because they are appropriate to do that. You just need to be available, to listen to that call, and then everything arranges. I want to give others the possibility to be better, if they want to, because I had been given this possibility I want to give it forward. It’s not us who matter but our message – we need to see the content of the message that we give forward, that can change, can bring something good”, Daniel says.
PHOTOS FROM PERSONAL ARCHIVE
Do you know a very special person? Someone who has followed his dream, built it piece by piece, with passion, energy and lot of soul? An usual, simple person who did something in life, who you can identify with, who can be, for others, a source of inspiration? Tell me about that person and let’s tell the others his/her beautiful story. Write me at email@example.com, here, on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.