Remembering our sister Sharidyn

21-07-2021 17.00 pm

Today, my family and I commemorated 10 year memorial since my sister Sharidyn was killed on the island of Utøya in Norway. The commemoration was held in Bragernes church in Drammen.

Below is a summary of the special memorial service for Sharidyn, Dupe and Birgitte.

#viminnerdem

#werememberthem

Remembering Sharidyn, Dupe and Birgitte (2021) Photo credit: S. Moratti

Our beautiful sister Sharidyn (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Sharidyn, Dupe and Birgitte at Bragernes church (2021) Photo credit: S. Moratti

Remembering Sharidyn in Maori, English and Norwegian

21-07-2021 11:00 am

My speech (in Norwegian, English and Maori) that I held in Bragernes church commemorating 10 years since our sister Sharidyn was killed on July 22nd on Utøya.

 

Norwegian:

Jeg har fått æren å holde tale i dag. Jeg viste nøyaktig hva jeg skulle si helt frem til at jeg skulle sitte ned å skrive talen min. «Ord blir fattige» er det noe som heter.

For nøyaktig 10 år siden i dag, 21. Juli, var jeg på den flotte Bragernes strand her i byen sammen med en klassevenninne, lillesøstera mi som 17 måneder og mamma. Vi badet i elva og lekte i sanden, lykkelig uvitende om hvordan livet vårt skulle forandres. Det jeg ikke viste da, var at mamma sendte meldinger til og fra med Sissi og pappa. Pappa var i Kina pga jobben hans, og Sissi var på Utøya. Bildene av meg og Sydney ble sendt frem og tilbake mellom mamma, Sissi og pappa. «Ahh, så søte», skrev Sissi til mamma. «Gi Savannah og Sydney en klem fra meg», skrev Sissi i en annen melding. «Jeg savner deg, Savannah og Sydney. Elsker deg mamma. Snakkes» avsluttet hun siste melding til mamma. Jeg elsket søstera mi – hun var min bestevenn når jeg var 7 år. Hun var den jeg ville bli. Etter 22. Juli, alt jeg har igjen av Sissi, er våre minner og en gravplass å gå til. Jeg savner hennes forferdelig mye.

Realiteten i vår hverdagslige liv er at Sissi, Dupe og Birgitte aldri kom hjem til oss som de skulle. Deres siste timer de var i live 22. Juli – var vondt og forferdelig trist. Det er den brutale sannheten om 22. Juli. Terroristen tok fra Sissi, Dupe og Birgitte og de andre ofrene deres fremtid – han tok fra oss og dem deres «levde liv». Dupe og Birgitte i likhet med Sissi hadde også egne planer og drømmer for deres fremtid. De også har familie – foreldre, besteforeldre, tante, onkler søskenbarna og venner som savner dem. Jeg tviholder på minnene om søstera mi og snakker om henne i håp at ingen andre skal oppleve det vi lever med hver dag.

Det er overlevende og etterlatte som innehar den subjektive opplevelse av 22. Juli, og når samfunnet etter hvert gikk «videre» har vi brukt mange år på å bygge opp vårt liv på nytt. Det har ikke vært en smertefri prosess og denne uka er en vond påminnelse. Vi vil bære ettervirkningene av 22. Juli med oss så lenge vi lever. Det er dessverre ikke noe vi har kunnet skru av «når vi har blitt lei». Det er solidaritet og medfølelse som definerte det norske folk i tiden etter terrorangrepene, og det er solidaritet og medfølelse vi fortsatt trenger nå, 10 år senere.

Men vi må ikke bruke så store ord at vi ikke klarer å etterleve dem i våre daglige liv. Jeg tror virkelig på at det er menneskene som er styrken og hjertet i vårt samfunn. Det er derfor vi er her i Bragernes kirke. Kirken minner oss om våre verdier – fordi dette bygget også representerer våre daglige liv – det er også her vi er døpt, konfirmert, gifter oss og tar farvel med familie og venner som går bort. Vår menneskehet, grunnleggende anstendighet og hvordan vi evner å ta være på det norske folk i kampen mot terror er hva som vil definere oss i fremtiden. Det må vi aldri glemme.

#viminnerdem

 

English:

My sister was born in New Zealand, but spent most of her young life growing up here in Norway. Sharidyn loved the fact that she multi-cultural background. So, do we. We were raised to be proud of our Norwegian, New Zealand and Maori heritages.

Sharidyn was everything we love about being a kiwi. Her kindness was bigger than her - and she fought for what she believed in. She defended her friends who were of the Muslim faith. She fiercely defended their right to wear the hijab at school without the fear of being teased, just because they were different. She was 12 when Sharidyn stood up against the boys that were bullies, and even though she hated violence she threatened the “bullies” that she would sit on them if they didn’t stop.

But Sharidyn was also kind to people she didn’t know - strangers. She was her compassion for others. After she was killed, a lady visited us and told us of the day she met my sister. Sharidyn had given her money because the lady didn’t have enough to pay for her food - and Sharidyn didn’t ask for anything back.

Sharidyn had ambitions for her future - she believed that one day she could be the Prime Minister of New Zealand and Norway. My parents have taught us that to “believe that we could be anything we want to be" – to believe that we could reach the stars, and Sharidyn truly believed that she could be her dreams. Sharidyn also dreamed for herself, that she would also become a fashion designer.

My sister was also hilariously funny and found the silver lining in everything. She was the world’s best big sister, and everything that I hope I am to our little sister Sydney, is because my big sister - was kindness, compassion and generosity all wrapped up in a package that was her. I know that if my sister had been looking over us today, she would have been proud to see so many here with us honouring not only her memory but also the memory of all the victims of the 22. July terrorist attacks.

But the simple truth is that I wouldn’t be standing here if my sister hadn't of been killed. I am 17 years old – three years older than my sister was when she was heinously taken from us. For 10 years, we have lived without my big sister – and the world is a much sadder place without her in it.

We grow up learning that death is a part of life. If we are fortunate, most of us will live until we are retired – hopefully living a full and happy life. But sadly, not everyone is fortunate.

700-800 meters from where we are here, is my sister Sharidyns grave. She was only 14 years, and 5 days old. 10 years ago, her life was brutally taken from her. We know better than most how absolutely terrible humans can be towards each other. One man decided my sisters fate. He took from Sharidyn, her right to live. NO ONE – ABSOLUTELY NO ONE has that right.

For 10 years we have struggled to find our place in the world without Sharidyn. My parents are two amazing people who have fiercely protected us and given Sydney and I everything that they also gave Sharidyn. But when you’re the little sister of the youngest victim of the Norway terrorist attacks – you grow up seeing the world in a way that steals from us our innocence.

What I wish for the future seems like a dream. To quote the great Martin Luther King – who wished for himself and the future, a better life said: «I have a dream».

I too, have a dream.

I have a dream - that we accept our differences and find harmony in what makes us all the same. We are one race – the human race.

I have a dream.

I have a dream - that people are more compassionate, are more generous, and kinder to each other.

I have a dream - that the victims of terrorism in New Zealand and Norway will one day find peace in their grief.

I have a dream – that we NEVER forget their NAMES, their FACES, their STORIES – because that is how we will teach future generations that: «Terrorism has NO place in our future, and we will fight terrorisms hateful existence – we will fight extremism with compassion, we will fight terrorism with kindness, we will fight with our humanity».

#werememberthem

 

Maori:

Tēnei te mihi ki a tātau katoa e huihui nei i tēnei rā

I greet us all who are gathered here today

Ki a koutou ngā whānau o te hunga kua riro i kōnei – he mihi aroha ki a koutou

To you the families of those who were lost here – our deepest sympathies to you all

Ki te hapori whānui – tēnā koutou

To the wider community – I greet you all

Ki ngā tāngata whenua – tēnā koutou

To the tangata whenua – I acknowledge you

Ki ngā mate, e kore koutou e warewaretia

To the dead, you will never be forgotten

Haere, haere, moe mai rā

Go now and rest in peace.

Ko Savannah toku ingoa

My name is Savannah

I whanau mai au i te taha o te awa o Drammen

I was born and raised by the river of Drammen

He uri ahau no Norway, no Aotearoa

I descend from Norway and NZ

Ko Tūhoe, ko Ngāti Whatua, ko Tūwharetoa ngā iwi

I am (all of these tribes)

Nō reira, tēna koutou, tēna koutou, tēna koutou

Therefore, greetings to you all

Me at Bragernes church before my giving my speech (2021) Photo credit: S. Moratti

Me giving my speech in english, norwegian and maori in memory of Sharidyn (2021) Photo credit: S. Moratti

Dikt: Du er enestående, av Erling Førland

My little sister Sydney read a poem in Bragernes church written by Erling Førland in honour of Sharidyn, Dupe and Birgitte. This poem was one of Sharidyn's favourites, that one of her teachers had given her the year before she was killed.

This poem is a fitting reminder that kindness doesn't cost anything and can mean the world to the person you are kind to.

 

Du er enestående. 


Du er mer verd enn noen kan måle. 


Du kan noe som er spesielt for deg.


Du har noe å gi andre. 


Du har gjort noe du kan være stolt av. 


Du har store ubrukte ressurser.


Du duger til noe. 


Du kan godta andre. 


Du har evne til å forstå og lære av andre. 


Det er noen som er glad i deg.

My little sister Sydney in Bragernes church (2021) Photo credit: S. Moratti

My little sister Sydney singing "Barn av regnbuen" (2021) Photo credit: Rune Folkedal

Venill's letter to Sissi and Ellen

Below is July 22nd survivor Venill Kraviks beautiful letter (and speech) to Sissi  and Ellen (Dupe) in Norwegian.

 

Til Ellen og Sissi,

Det er tirsdag 19. juli. Jeg skal på Utøya for første gang med min gode venninne Johanna. Jeg tropper opp på togstasjonen i drammen, ferdigpakket, spendt på hva Utøya er og hvem vi skal møte. I det jeg kommer inn på togstasjonen får jeg øye på henne. Ellen. Selv den dag i dag når jeg går inn på togstasjonen i Drammen kan jeg se for meg det første øyeblikket med Ellen. At hun står der i sentrum av en ungdomsgjeng, hun snur seg, og gir meg verdens største smil med en iste i hånda. På togstasjonen er også Sissi. Hun har en lillesøster på armen og ei søster på 7 år som løper lattermildt mellom oss, med lang svart bølgete hår. Familien skal til å si farvel til Sissi. Først er det togtur og så er det busstur. Ellen deler jordbær med oss. Vi har rukket og spille kort på busstasjonen på Ellens initiativ. Og jeg følger jeg har fått meg nye venner allerede, og det er før vi har kommet frem. Jeg er overveldet.

 «Optimist, jeg vet det går bra til sist». Ellen synger for full hals. Vi har akkurat gått ombord i båten Thorbjørn og det har begynt å regne. «Typisk», sier Sissi og tar på seg hetta. Ellen har bestemt seg for å holde stemningen oppe i det vi ankommer Utøya. I løpet av den korte turen over har Ellen kart å få med seg hele gjengen på båten til å synge med henne, og Sissi til slutt trekke på smilebåndet.

Tirsdag kveld. Ellen og Sissi får opp teltet sitt i rekordfart, ikke noe problem. Jeg og Johanna plundrer litt mer med å få satt opp våres telt. Vi skal ligge i teltet ved siden av. Når vi endelig har fått lagt oss, oppdager vi en frosk inne i teltet. Vi skriker og hyler og bærer oss sånn som bare jenter på 17 år kan. Det er mørkt og det er vanskelig å se hvor frosken er. Sissi på 14 år kommer til unnsetning. Får en av oss til å holde en lommelykt. Så sier hun at hun skal ordne det. Hun går forsiktig mot frosken, tar tak i den med bare hendene og tar den med trygt ut. Til min og Johannas store beundring. Dagen etter forteller Sissi at hun egentlig ikke er så glad i frosker. Men noen måtte jo ordne opp.

Dagene består av samlinger, kortspill, bading i iskaldt vann, nye venner, speed-dating, sang og ikke minst fotballturnering. Jeg og Ellen lager en morsom heia-sang. Hvor vi er Buskedamer fra Buskerud og heia-duskene er så klart laget av busker.

Onsdag kveld. Vi sitter i bakken. Vi synger «Idyll». En stemme bak meg skiller seg ut. Den er ekstra vakker. Intuitivt snur meg for å finne ut hvor stemmen kommer fra. Det er Ellen. Jeg smiler. Selvfølgelig er det Ellen som synger så fint, tenker jeg.

Torsdag kveld. Det har vært konsert og det begynner å bli sent. Vi sitter en gjeng i LO-teltet rundt noen bord. Vi skravler, ler. Plutselig er det noen hender som tar rundt meg. Personen bak meg omfavner meg. Jeg blir overrasket og lurer på hvem det er som ønsker meg denne gode klemmen. Så skimter jeg det lange svarte håret til Sissi. Hun holder fast en stund, og jeg er smigret. En overraskende og god klem som jeg har tatt vare på.

Fredag kveld. Dere er ikke her lenger.

Kjære Sissi og Ellen,

Jeg fikk bare kjenner dere i 3 dager. Men i 10 år har dere bodd i hjertet mitt. All som har vært glad i dere og som veldig her elsket dere, har dere i hjertet sitt. Det er vondt å tenke på alt dere ikke fikk. Det er vondt å tenke på hva deres nærmeste aldri fikk. Det er vond at 22. juli ikke bare var en vanlig kveld. Det var planlagt disko den kvelden. Jeg hadde med meg en ekstra fin glitrende topp, som var spesielt utpekt til fredag kveld. Vi skulle reist hjem sammen dagen etter og vært fornøyd med sommerleir. Glad for det nye bekjentskapet våres, sagt ting som «vi ses snart», «skal dere på leir neste år?», «vi må få til å møtes snart», og så skulle vi ha levd livene våres videre.

«Never mind I find someone like you, I wish nothing but the best for you too.» Det er onsdag 20. juli. Vi sitter på Kjærlighetsstien. Jenta ved siden av meg har lært seg tre grep på gitaren og vi ser utover vannet. Om jeg kan denne? «Klart det vi er i 2011, hvem kan ikke denne?»

I wish nothing but the best for you too.

Don't forget me, I beg, I remember you said.

Sometimes it last in love but sometimes it hurts instead.

Sometimes it last in love but sometimes it hurts instead.

July 22nd survivor, Venill Kravik remembering Ellen and Sissi (2021) Photo credit: Rune Folkedal

New Zealand Ambassador to Norway, Andrew Jenks honouring Sharidyn's memory (2021) Photo credit: S. Moratti

Soloist Ingeborg Soot sang Sangbird honouring Sharidyn's memory (2021) Photo credit: S. Moratti

Program of the memorial honouring Sharidyn, Dupe and Birgitte (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Program - Commemoration held in Bragernes Church on July 21st - Page 1 (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Program - Commemoration held in Bragernes Church on July 21st - Page 2 (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

We humbly thank ...

Thank you to my mum, Vanessa Svebakk who took initiative to organising the commemoration honouring Sharidyn, Modupe Ellen Awoyemi and Birgitte Smetbak as well as the other victims of the July 22nd terrorists attacks in Norway. Mum: Sydney and I love you and dad so very very much for everything that you have done and continue to do for us so that we can live our lives and hold Sharidyn's memory close to our hearts. 

A special thank you to aunty Stella Black who helped me with part of my speech in Māori and especially for always being our rock. We love so much aunty Stella and uncle Kevin. You are always there for us, even though we are on opposite sides of the world. You remember Sharidyn all the days in between, as mum says. We wished so much that you had been with us here in Norway, and when you couldn't because of covid and in-travel restrictions, you still (as you always have been) were sending us all your love. We miss you and the rest of our whanau.

Thank you to our uncle Shanon Moratti for helping mum with the program for the commemoration, and for all the beautiful photos that you took of us at the memorial. Uncle Shanon: We love you and our beautiful aunty Tho, our cousins Emily and Liam so much for being with us and remembering Sharidyn. We love you all so very much.

A special thank you New Zealands Ambassador to Norway, Mr Andrew Jenks for coming to Norway on behalf of the New Zealand government. Andrew: We are so eternally grateful that you came to Drammen, visited Sharidyns grave and took time to learn about Sharidyn and her life story   as well as taking the time to attend the memorial in Oslo with us and on Utøya. You will always have special place in our hearts for your kindness.

Thank you to Bragernes church Chaplain Margrete Schmidt Johansen, organist Jon Martin Høie, Coordinator for "Open Church" and Bragernes parish house Bjørg Juriks and everyone else that organised and helped with making the commemoration on July 21 one of the nicest commemorations that we have ever attended.

Thank you to July 22nd survivor of the Utøya attacks, Venil Kravik, and soloist Ingeborg Soot for being a part of our July 21 commemoration. Venil: your speech was one of the best speeches we have ever heard. Ingeborg: you are so extremely gifted and sing like an angel.

Thank you to Senior cameraman for NRK Helge Tvedten for taking the time to get to know our sister Sharidyn and our story about our life with her. Helge: Thank you for your kindness and for the amazing photos and footage that you filmed on behalf of TVNZ OneNews and Japans TBS News.

Thank you so much to all our family and close friends, July 22nd survivors and their beautiful families and others who took the time to honour Sharidyn, Dupe and Birgitte by attending the commemoration in Drammen (and/or watching the live-stream (video) via Drammens Tidende). Our family is extremely grateful to every single person that we saw, we spoke to and that we were able to hug.

Thank you for singing with us, talking with us, crying with us, and remembering Sharidyn's life. 

Remembering Sharidyn together with our dad and our grandparents, Ingvar and Elsa Bøhn (2021) Photo credit: V. Svebakk

Me with our 88 year old grandparents, Ingvar and Elsa Bøhn (2021) Photo credit: V. Svebakk

Me, mum and Sydney with New Zealands Ambassador to Norway, Mr Andrew Jenks in Drammen (2021) Photo credit: S. Moratti

International media honouring Sharidyn's memory 10 years on

23-07-2021 11:30 pm

Below are links to news articles and video-interviews that our mum, Vanessa did with New Zealands TVNZ OneNews and Te Karere, and Japans TBS News:

TVNZ OneNews: Kiwi Norway massacre victim remembered 10 years on

TVNZ OneNews: Sister pays tribute to Sharidyn Svebakk-Bohn, killed in Norway massacre

 

Karakia held in memory of Young Māori teen Sharidyn Svebakk-Bohn

Video credit: Te Karere TVNZ/Youtube

ノルウェー連続テロ事件から10年 14歳の娘失った女性の思い

Video credit: TBS News/Youtube

Below is the script of the TV news interview that my mum Vanessa did with Japans TBS News.

 

TBS News: 10 years after the terrorist attacks in Norway. The thoughts of a woman who lost her 14-year-old daughter

It has been 10 years since the Norwegian terrorist attacks that killed 77 people. What is needed to prevent terrorism again is a concern of a woman who lost her 14-year-old daughter at the time. Vanessa, who lives near Oslo, the capital of Norway. Her daughter, Sharidyn, would have celebrated her 24th birthday this month if she were alive. "Her future wasn't supposed to end up in a cemetery. But in spite of that,10 years on, we're still here," said Vanessa.

The incident 10 years ago that killed Sharidyn. A man with a far-right ideology fired his guns on Utoya, a suburb, after a terrorist bombing in the government district of the capital Oslo, killing a total of 77 people. The man, who claimed to "protect Europe from Islamic rule," targeted young people in the youth division of a political party that was tolerant to accepting immigrants.

On the 22nd, 10 years after the incident, a memorial ceremony was held on the island at the site. However, even after 10 years, deep wounds remain in the hearts of the bereaved families. "Even after 10 years, some bereaved families still need help and suffer from PTSD and extreme trauma," said Vanessa. What should be done to prevent such crimes from being repeated? Vanessa emphasizes that it is important that the victim's point of view is not left behind, rather than just talking about the far-right thoughts and actions of the perpetrator.

I think that's the only way we're going to stop terrorism from happening, is being able to teach the generations that are coming, the generations today: this is what happens”.

Sharidyn's sister and Vanessa's other daughter, Savannah. She was seven years old at the time of the incident. Along with her mother and her sister, she is of native New Zealand heritage and is now working to hand down her story as a member of the next generation. "My sister loved her multicultural roots. She also protected Muslims from bullying. We fight terrorism with kindness and humanity," (her sister Savannah).

Sharidyn really embodied the tolerance that the criminal was hostile to. Her mother, Vanessa, believes that in the midst of constant far-right terrorism around the world, that message itself can combat terrorism. "I hope that we've been able to honor her memory by telling her story," says Vanessa.

ノルウェー連続テロから10年 現地で追悼集会

Video credit: TBS News/Youtube

Below is the script of the news report about Sharidyn that "TBS News - Live World Correspondant Report" did. 

 

TBS News: Next is "World Correspondent Report"

It has been 10 years since the terrorist attacks that killed 77 people in Norway. A memorial rally was held locally. Mr. Nishimura.

Reporter: The terrorist attack caused by a man just 10 years ago still leaves a deep scar on Norwegian society. At the memorial ceremony held on the island of Utoya, which was the scene of the incident on July 22nd, survivors and bereaved families, as well as the king and the prime minister, attended to mourn the death of the victims. On July 22, 2011, a man with a far-right ideology did a mass shooting at Utoya Island in the suburbs after a terrorist bombing in the government district of Oslo, the capital, killing 77 people in total. Before the incident, the man claimed on the internet that he would "protect Europe from Islamic rule," and the victims on Utoya were young people from the youth division of a political party that was accepting of immigrants. Vanessa, who lost her 14-year-old daughter in the incident, visited the grave of her daughter, Sharidyn, and revealed to us the thoughts of her 10 years of suffering.

Vanessa:Her future wasn't supposed to end up in a cemetery. But in spite of that we... 10 years on, we're still here." Vanessa feels resentful (sad) that the victim's point of view has been left behind because all that is said about the case is the far-right thoughts and actions of the perpetrator.

Anchor: It really hurts my heart when I think about the feelings of the bereaved family. Mr. Nishimura, is the far-right ideology behind this incident still deeply rooted?

Reporter: Yes, these ideas are not gone. Rather, it can be said that individuals with similar ideas are deepening their ties around the world. In 2019, a terrorist attack targeting people worshiping at an Islamic mosque in New Zealand killed 51 people, but the perpetrator also is said to have been influenced by the perpetrator of the Norwegian terrorist attack. Experts are concerned that even in the world of far-right ideology, the digital generation is expanding its circle of collaboration across national borders.

Professor Cathrine Thorleifsson, a social anthropologist who has studied terrorist attacks: "They can connect online to increase their sense of belonging, spread propaganda, and so on. It creates a heroic feeling."

Here in Britain, one-third of the terrorist plots caught in the last four years were due to the far right. This is an issue that should be addressed internationally.

 

Thank you to Senior News Producer, Jason Priestly and TBS News for honouring Sharidyns memory and the other 76 victims that were killed July 22nd 2011. Our family is eternally grateful to you.

Screenshot of article/interview in Drammens Tidende July 22nd (2021) Photo credit: S. Svebakk-Bøhn

Because of covid, the memorial service was live-streamed by DT photographer, Rune Folkedal.

Click here for the video which can be found at the bottom of the article: Ti år etter Utøya: – Vi må tviholde på de gode minnene.