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Two Honorary Citizens in Nanortalik

Karline Eliasens has given her children a good education, but when they are visiting their old home town of Nanortalik in South Greenland she always encourages them to go out on a hunting trip.: –They need to remember where they come from, she explains.

Karline is in charge of the boarding school in Nanortalik, where the children from the villages in the municipality stay during the week. In the villages of Greenland school is only available up to 7th or 8th grade. The villages simply have too few children to provide a broader service. So attending high school requires children to go to the nearest town with such a facility. But with no roads, and several hours of sailing or helicopter flight to get from one place to another, the children have to stay in a boarding school in town during the week, and then go home to their villages at the week-end.

Karline is also the driving force behind the local choir. It was in order to support her own children that she originally moved from the village Tasiusaq and settled in Nanortalik, even though she loved the village life: –We wanted to give them the opportunity to pursue an education, Karline says.

For her, the town of Nanortalik, with approximately 1,500 inhabitants, seemed to be a big place. But she wanted to provide the children with all of the modern opportunities she herself did not get: – When we got visitors from Denmark we had difficulty in talking with them. We wanted to make sure that our children were able to do so, she underlines.

Her husband, Sakæus, was originally a sheep farmer, but he gave up the trade when they moved from the village to the town. Instead he started working as an organist in the church and later on also as a part time teacher in the vocational training school. Today he is a pensioner, but he helps Karline with practical things in the boarding school, where they also now live.

Karline and Sakæus recently received a medal from the Mayor in honour of their work for the community. One reason for the special honour was that they both continue to abstain from using alcohol, which remains a significant problem in many of the small Greenland com-munities. In addition, it also reflected their deep involvement in the promotion of Greenland's song culture to the youth of today through their work with the choir.

Similar to many other young persons, their children have chosen to settle in the larger towns in Greenland, and in Denmark: – We have never put pressure on them to make them choose one or the other. They should choose for themselves, says Karline.

Karline og Sakæus Eliasen at home in Nanortalik, South Greenland. Photo: Sigrid Rasmussen

Karline og Sakæus Eliasen at home in Nanortalik, South Greenland.
Photo: Sigrid Rasmussen

By Sigrid Rasmussen