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5 Questions for Idealists: Barbro Hegland

Barbro Hegland holds up a knit rendering of the Idealist logo.

Barbro Hegland

Ulefloss, Norway

Member of the Idealists of the World Facebook Group Since July 2018

When did you realize that you were an idealist? What moment or event sparked your desire to make the world a better place?

I have always been an idealist, since I was a small child. But at a certain point in my life, in 2012, I was really down and heartbroken, and my idealism was quite broken too. I had lost my heart project, my job, my two best friends, and my health, and the only thing that was left was my family, thank God. My busy life was over, and only silence was left. I felt like a zero, and that my identity was completely lost. The silence almost killed me, but I had to slowly adjust, and after some time I realized there was a voice in the silence, and I started to listen. That voice told me that I was far from a zero, but a seed in the soil waiting for growth and time to blossom. I was told I needed water, sunshine, and nourishment. But who would water, nourish, and shine on me? My network was gone, along with my health. I was the one who always took care of others, to the degree that I was drained empty, but no one was there to take care of me when I got sick and unable to be the motor in my network. Then, I figured out that I could water myself by (1) starting to drink a lot of water, and (2) letting the voice nourish me. As soon as I opened myself up to this opportunity, two distant people came out of the blue and started to meet with me. They did not expect anything from me, they just liked me and enjoyed being with me. We had a lot of fun, they became my sunshine, and they are still my best friends today. This gave me strength and comfort, and after a while I felt much better. 

I understood that the things I believed to be my identity were not at all the real me. These things of course framed my life, but the real me was the one inside the frame—but who was that? One day I saw a film of myself as small girl for the first time, and I was so taken by the sight of her. She was so sweet, so full of energy, so curious, and so excited by life. At the same time, I found a letter that my mother had written to my aunt when I was two years old. That letter told a lot about me. I suddenly remembered what my mother used to call me. She said: You are my pamfi girl, always having something to look forward to. Pamfilos is a name from old Greece, symbolizing a person who was always offered good things by Fate—a winner; Luck’s pet. 

Barbro Hegland in a black and white photo holding a railing.
Barbro at 4 yrs old. The little pamfi girl, that always has something to look forward to.

So, despite the fact that I felt more like a victim, I decided to take that identity back, and started the same day to tell myself this mantra every day: I am a pamfi girl, full of pamfipower! And believe it or not, my life turned totally around, and life suddenly blessed me with daily gifts and miracles. Soon I understood I had something great to share. My blossom time had come, and I decided to use my communication skills because they were not affected by a weak body. So I prepared a speech about exciting and inspirational topics, like the power of thought, and opened my house once a month, made coffee and cake, and invited random people to come visit me. They all came, and each paid me 50 NOK. I have done that for 7 years now, and with this money I have kept a young Palestinian girl in medical school for three years. She still has four years left, but after seven years she will be a doctor and contribute to make this world a better place. 

This situation and process sparked my idealism in a very powerful way. My life is good, I am so full of gratitude, and this is my way to pay back to the universe for all I have got as a pamfi girl. I really want so much to share the understanding of pamfi power. My world is a reflection of my inner world, and the person inside the frame. A job, health, stable economy, network, and friends are all great things, but they are not my identity. My identity is this: I am a pamfi girl because I am loved by the universe, I am one with all there is and every other person on this Earth. There is no lacking, and all is well. 

And my urge to share is because of this: Barbro is not the only pamfi girl in this world! We all are! We are pamfi children, pamfi girls and pamfi boys, pamfi women and pamfi men. We just have to become aware of it.

5 Questions for Idealists: Barbro Hegland - Idealist Days Blog
From a pamfi meeting in my home.

What keeps you optimistic, hopeful, and motivated?

I will always be optimistic, hopeful, and motivated because I do believe and trust in love. When love moves our hearts, good things happen and conditions are changed. I know love is there even when I don’t see it. I just have to be the bringer of love, I have to practice love. Peace is a consequence of love, and peace goes from heart to heart.

What do Idealist Days mean to you?

To be part of the Idealist group gives me hope for this world. It makes me realize that we are many, and we grow rapidly. We are spread all around the world, even the poor parts of the world. I have such a great respect for those people who work from difficult conditions to give humans a better life. Idealist Day reminds me—and keeps alive in me the inner knowing that I am a member of a huge group of people who constantly work for freedom, dignity, peace, and love, in one way or another. I am one with all these people, and I will do my part in the ways that I am able to do it. That can differ from time to time. Nothing is too small. Love makes things grow, and the consequences and the vibration of all these small acts can move mountains.

5 Questions for Idealists: Barbro Hegland - Idealist Days Blog
From the bridge in Ulefoss on Idealist Day 9/9 2018.

What’s one thing you’ve done—big or small—that you are most proud of?

I worked with grown-up refugees for some years in The Red Cross as a language helper. I saw how much an hour and a half a week with me lifted their energy, and that made me understand how important it is to be seen, to get attention, to be inspired, to have a space to breathe when you are in a tense and worrisome situation. I ended up with a calling in my heart: How can I help them more?

I decided to give them one full day of my time a week, but then I needed a place to be with them. I asked the leader of the camp if she had a room but never got any answer, so I went straight to the mayor and asked him to use one single room in an empty building in the camp. He immediately said yes, so I started. Professionally I was working with reflexology, homeopathy, healing, and coaching, so I had many tools to help them with. Everything I did was for free. After a short time the house was crowded, and I had to ask a friend to help me. She did, and the empty building was soon full of people and activities, and we were there every day. I even moved my job and office to the same building so I could be closer to them. They came when they needed help in different ways, and we told them, “We are here if you need us.” We never went to find them. We treated everyone in the same way, we hugged them and told them, “We love you, you have a value, and we respect you.” We comforted them when they were down, and shared their joy if something good happened. We served coffee and tea, baked bread, and made soup. We taught them Norwegian and English, we arranged speeches and courses in self-help and positive thinking. We arranged concerts, dancing parties, and a lot of other positive activities. We filled a library with great books in English, opened another room for them to be alone for prayers and meditation, like a sanctuary. We filled this room with angels, all the holy books, Buddha, Mother Mary, whatever religious relics they might like or need, and they used it. In this room we had a box where they could share their anonymous wishes or prayers with us. We prayed for them. The one room we opened had become a nice and peaceful house with many rooms, like a home where they came to rest, to ease their pain, to get help with worries and practical things, and where they could use their resources and skills to help us.

All these different kinds of people from all over the world had brought with them many conflicts from their homelands into the camp, so Africans hated Muslims, and Muslims hated Christians, and so on, and they warned me and told me don’t be with the Muslims, they are dangerous. I told them, “You are all here because you want to be free from conflict and hate. We love you all, to us you are not Muslim or Christian, Catholic or Buddhist, you are humans.” We told them, “Get to know people, meet them with an open heart, and you will see they are you.” So they made new friends across conflict borders, and their attitudes changed. Fear and worry eased down, and I took care of their different kinds of pains, injuries from football games, frozen shoulders, migraines, and so on. 

5 Questions for Idealists: Barbro Hegland - Idealist Days Blog
Left: Me with my friend Blessing. He was a refugee, but had to return to his homeland in 2009. We still have contact after all these years. Right: My friend and artist Hussein. After 15 years in Norway he is still a refugee, living in a limbo.

We did the things that the camp office told them they had no ability to do because it was outside their limits to assist them with their daily challenges and problems. If you are nine months pregnant and African, can’t speak Norwegian or English, and need to see the doctor which is 30 minutes outside the camp, when it is winter and the roads are icy and slippery, what will you do when the office tells you the bus stop is ten minutes down the steep hill, and that you have to pay for the ticket but you have no money for neither the bus nor the doctor? We drove them to the doctor, followed them, and sometimes paid for them. How could we not?

So, after some time we got enemies in the camp office, the UDI office in Oslo, the leaders of our small community, the health care people, nurses and doctors. We had stepped in their flowerbeds. We had done the things none of them could do. The consequences were that they told us we hindered the refugees from getting proper health care. It was like a crime to teach them languages. They said it was wrong that we always helped them for free, but we knew it would also have been very, very wrong if we had told them to pay us. They said it was very bad that our centre was located in the camp, because we split the camp and made it a place for rumors and conflict, but we knew that it would have been even worse if our centre had been outside the camp, because then they would have to go there. They told us that we destroyed our community’s good reputation, and that we put an unpleasant pressure on a vulnerable group of people. And they said that I had started something that was close to illegal. Suddenly we found ourselves in the middle of a war where we were attacked from above and from behind. None of the people, who had criticized us for almost everything, had ever set their foot in our centre to see all the supposed bad things they accused us of doing.

After two years, I closed my centre. Not because anyone told me I had to, but because I had started my project to do good—which we did—but now my energy was used only to defend myself against loads of accusations. Really, it was a tragedy. But I still am so very proud of what we did, and the good results we got, and the way people changed from being weak to strong, from having low energy to high spirits, from being enemies to being friends. Even the ones that had to return back to their home countries left as strong and powerful people, not broken and full of fear. The principles of love that I believed in and practiced were working out exactly the way I expected them to, but my society and the leaders in position were just jealous and narrow-minded. 

Regardless of the pain it caused me, I still think of this period as the happiest time in my life. I followed my heart’s calling, and today I have friends all over the world that keep in contact with me and tell me how grateful they are and how important this time of their life was, despite the pain they had to go through.

5 Questions for Idealists: Barbro Hegland - Idealist Days Blog

What are your long term goals, and how can the Idealist community help?

My long term goal is to stay with love, and to let love inspire me. When love closes one door, love will open another door. When love allows one heart project to be closed, love will make sure there is a field for a new and better one to get started. Love will always give me a mission, love needs my resources and my compassion. And as long as I am here I will let love move me in the direction of the highest good.