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A Somali herder for Swedish camels

Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - 01:57

Mar 09 - A Somali immigrant finds work tending to a trio of Bactrian camels in rural Sweden and discovers that while camels might be the same, the climate is not. Elly Park reports.

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The gentle nature and its oddly-shaped back made the camel a man's best friend in the dry deserts of Asia and North Africa. But Kalle, Anna and their son Karlsson are three Bactrian camels who roam the roads of rural Sweden. Just as they make for an unusual sight in the snow blanketed fields, the story of their caretaker, the Somali-born Ali Abdullahi Hassan, is as unusual. SOUNDBITE: Ali Abdullahi Hassan, camel herder, saying (Somali) "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. Perhaps one day they will have camel racing just as they race horses here." Hassan came to Gyttorp in central Sweden in 2007. He was working at odd jobs when he heard that a local couple needed a camel attendant because they were difficult to ride. Hassan, who grew up in a farm in Somalia, always had a knack for training camels, although the weather here proved to be a challenge. SOUNDBITE: Ali Abdullahi Hassan, camel herder, saying (Somali) "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." The owners of the farm bought the animals in the hope to offer camel rides to visitors one day. With Hassan's help that might be sooner rather than later. Elly Park, Reuters.

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A Somali herder for Swedish camels

Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - 01:57