– That’s too heavy. I think a lot about those who should have been in Norway now and on tour with me.
Hiding from the horrors of war
Jan Ketel Smurdahl sits and directs a train that is on its way to provide emergency assistance to Ukraine. Those who were supposed to fiddle and participate in aerial acrobatics in a circus tent, now sit in the basement of their home and hide from the horrors of war outside.
– I’m not worried about myself at all. The only thing I’ve thought of in the past few days, Smurdal says, is all those in Ukraine I’ve known for many years.
There should have been circus equipment in the trailer. Now it has been replaced by diapers, dry goods, and medicine.
– I’ve been looking forward for a long time to give everyone a hug in Flesland. Now I have to meet them in Ukraine in grief instead, says Jan Kittel.
He’s known families from Ukraine since the early 1990s, when they first came to Norway to be with the Cirkus Agora. Since then, Smørdal has kept in close contact with the families of the artists and everyone who works on setting up and dropping the circus in all the places they go.
– Absolutely unreal
– What is happening is not realistic at all. Now we’ve been waiting for a pandemic for two years, after which we must finally start. Then the war will break out. The director of an animatronic circus says it’s very hard to think of this without the tears wilting.
He was due to celebrate 40 years as an artist with his Ukrainian friends this year. Now the entire circus season for Agora has been cancelled.
Jan-Ketil cannot tell where the families live or who they are. It will not expose anyone to undue fear of being identified.
Smurdal decided early on to drive across the border into Ukraine with emergency assistance.
The trip to the border of Ukraine
BA on a trip from Fyllingsdalen to the Polish border with Ukraine, along with the Fyllingsdalen theater, two Tide buses and a trailer fully loaded with auxiliary equipment. The plan is to help the refugees at the border, filling the buses with refugees who will be sent back to Bergen.
Here you can read all the cases:
- March 5, departure from Fyllingsdalen: He goes to the Ukrainian border to transport refugees: – This will be very heavy
- March 6, on the way to Poland: The heaviest means of transportation for a circus director: – I am very worried about those who are sitting in the explosive room
- March 7, on the way to Poland: Evan has lists of everyone who will join: – I had to say no to many
- March 7, shopping center in Poland: Shop toys and clothes for refugees: – People came and donated money to us when they went out
- March 8, the border town of Zamosc in Poland: Marina’s son volunteered to serve in Kharkiv. Two days later, he was killed
- March 8, Lupica Krolowska, near the border with Ukraine: Here is Evan (11). Now he is going to Bergen
- March 8, Ukraine: Here, emergency aid advances in Ukraine
- March 8, Poland, near the border with Ukraine: Here they just fled across the border: – We had to leave our parents
- March 9: Germany on the Bergen Road: Witnessed the bombing in Kharkiv: – He decided to get away as much as possible
– Then he called my daughter-in-law Jörn Kvist, a theater director at the Villingsdalen Theater. His clear message was that we have to fix this. Since then, things have gone really fast in turns, and here we are, he says.
He borrowed a semi-trailer from Nistad Transport, which delivered the trailer directly in Fyllingsdalen. On Friday morning, volunteers from Bergen filled the trailer to the brim with emergency aid.
Together with Edvin Gunnar Øvrestrand from transport company Nistad, Jan Ketil Smørdal will drive directly to Ukraine. There they will hand over everything they have collected.
– They organized themselves very well. Smurdale says they come with trucks and everything needed to load, so they can deliver whatever we have right to those who need it.
There has been little sleep the last days. A professional circus director is concerned about the situation of all who are in the midst of war.
– I can’t imagine what it would be like to meet them. It will be very powerful.
Jan-Ketil feels a tremendous responsibility towards those who have worked in his circus for countless years. He says he can’t do enough for them.
These artists must be with us in 2020 and 2021, and Circus Agora was never ready to travel around the world like he is now. But this was not true.
Semi-trailer drivers will drive as much as they can all the way to Ukraine. As buses head to the border to pick up refugees, Smørdal’s big goal is to safely cross the border with emergency assistance for a million kroner.
Jörn Kvist calls from Bergen. He has good news. Work to receive emergency aid in Ukraine is in full swing.
- Here Ivan receives the terrible message on the bus:
– It’s very important that everything falls into place when we go there and get back as soon as possible, Smurdahl says after the phone with Kvist.
– We received the green light at the Ukrainian border for the delivery of emergency aid, both from the Ukrainian embassy and from our man on Ukrainian soil, says Jörn Kvist by phone from Bergen.
He also had good news for Jan-Ketil Smørdal:
– The person most closely related to Jan-Ketil from Ukraine comes to meet him. This means a lot to the father-in-law, and then they get a real doll hug to each other there and then.