Sunday, March 13, 2011
A Somali camel herder has come to rescue in the rural Swedish town of Gyttorp.
Ali Abdullahi Hassan, 40, was working at odd jobs shovelling snow and working in supermarkets when one of his relatives mentioned that a local couple, Inger Haglund and her husband Per-Ola Magnusson, were in need of a camel attendant.
Their three Bactrian camels, Kalle, Anna and their son Karlsson, were difficult to ride and had developed a taste for the berry bushes and flowers.
Ali, who grew up on a farm in Somalia, came to Gyttorp in central Sweden in 2007. Shortly after meeting the couple, Hassan started to work with the three camels at the couple's country property.
"I never imagined that I would work with camels in Sweden because I had never seen a camel here since I arrived. But when I came to Gyttorp I saw the camels and now I hope that camel herding will increase here," Hassan said.
Hassan spends most of his time training the camels to become accustomed to carrying riders. At this time of year the fields are covered in snow, making it a bit more challenging than in his native Somalia.
"Somalia and Sweden are very different. Sweden is snowy for six months and Somalia has sunshine the year around, so in Somalia you are able to work outside all the time. But here in Gyttorp, I am not able to work outside everyday for six months, so that is a big difference. In spite of the weather, we continue to work with the camels, thanks to God," Hassan said.
Hassan thinks his vocation as a camel attendant will turn out well.
"The Somali camel and Swedish camels are the same and I know this work well. I hope for this job to be lucrative for me and take me to a higher standard of living," he said.
Haglund and her husband purchased the animals several years ago and hope one day to offer camel rides to visitors into the surrounding forest.
With Hassan's help with the camels, that might be sooner rather than later.
"He knows what to demand of the camels, so they have been much easier to ride on and we can ride out in the forest. It's much easier to handle them and they have developed very much with the riding. So we are so lucky to have found Ali," Haglund said.
Hassan said he hoped camels would become more common in this part of the world and that one day they could be seen as more than exotic pets - and that perhaps one day there might even be camel racing in Sweden.