Family Ties

September 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

                                                                  

                                                                                                                                                                                                   by Irna Hofman

Mandø is home. Home is where the heart is. It is my home, that is what people say. Difficult to give it more words. Mandø is the nature, the sea, and the tide. Life on Mandø is difficult without having a car at your disposal. The tractor busses driving to and from Ribe are solely purposed for tourists. 

Mandø is part of people’s childhood. The school was closed in the 1980s, and since that time children are brought to school on the main land by their parents. This kind of role turns the other way around some decades later: elderly are brought to and from the main land by their children to visit health care centres and other public facilities.

What happens in between? Once part of the working population many people from Mandø find work on the main land, nearby or further away. Some even migrate to Greenland for some years. The majority of them however returns to the island: married and coming back to the roots. Each family owns some bordered square metres on the graveyard surrounding the old church, where they all are to be burried. Some surnames can be found a number of times.

Houses are kept in the family through inheritance. A woman I visited told me her house is partially owned by her two children, one of which shall live in the house after her. Her grandparents farmed there and her parents moved in after. Then she came to live there with her husband after they had retired. The house is still more or less in its original style. The old pictures on the wall prove that.                                                                                          

Children appear to be a kind of security to preserve the island culture and its facilities. Without the generation living here now, it would already have turned into a place with merely summer houses and tourists places. Family bonds are crucial. There are families where people share breakfast each morning on a central place. Perhaps you could say the seemingly loose contacts between the island’s inhabitants are juxtaposed with the strong family ties.

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