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Last Updated: Friday, 15 September 2006, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Fighting for Sweden's migrants
Malmo social worker Diabate Dialy-Mory
"Dallas", now 64, was a cleaner in Sweden before starting social work
Diabate Dialy Mory - nicknamed "Dallas" - helps immigrant children adapt to Swedish society in the city of Malmo.

Originally from Senegal, he has been living in Sweden since 1964 and has received awards for his contribution to society.

Here he describes his work - which includes running a boxing club in the largely immigrant area of Rosengard.

I was among the first coloured people living in Malmo. When I arrived I was a drummer with an African group. I've been practising boxing for 37 years.

These kids live outside society. When I started there were delinquent boys, but now there are boys here from the whole city. They found somebody here who cares about them - and that's me.

I have 10 kids of my own, from age 42 to 10. I'm very tough and create boundaries. In Rosengard there are lots of kids who don't have any contact with adults. That's why a lot of them turn to crime until they find someone who guides them.

Language hurdle

There are immigrant children who arrive unaccompanied, without adults. They don't speak the language, they're outside society. When they start boxing with us here they find brothers and sisters and start to act differently. They find someone cares about them and they have to care about someone else.

I've created a community here for them. The Malmo city authorities helped, but in a way I had to help myself. I like to create something.

Boxing club in Rosengard
The boxing club has boys from a variety of ethnic backgrounds
I look after criminals, that's my hobby. In the daytime I'm a social worker. I make friends with them, take them out go-karting, boxing, running or just sitting in a cafe, telling them what's right and wrong.

I show them how to go to the library, how to sit properly in a restaurant. I teach them to talk properly. To integrate anywhere in the world you have to speak the language.

I'm interested in human beings - that's what drives me. When you have someone who wants to box and comes here and I say 'no' - then you've marginalised another person. They can become a gangster.

When they come here I teach them to look after themselves, give them confidence.


I take 150 kronor from the girls (11; $21), 250 (19; $34) from the boys, for six months. Here I have Swedish, Bosnian, Kosovar, Arabs, Somalis. They all speak Swedish here, otherwise I ask them to leave.

There's a guy here who owns some flats and gives me money for this. I refuse to take money from the authorities, because then they want me to fill in lots of papers. I'm here for social work.

I also lecture about how to treat people from outside Sweden. Many Swedish firms want to know how to relate to foreigners.

In the UK and France they had colonies, they knew how to do it. Suddenly in Sweden they opened the doors and had a burden they didn't know how to carry. Someone like me has to help them.

I am called in sometimes to talk to youngsters in jail. There's a guy jailed for life and I'm his only contact. I meet him twice a month and advise him, to explain what life is about.

'Turning the tables'

In a way Rosengard is separate from the rest of Sweden. We have a lot of people here who don't speak Swedish, who don't work and we need role models - there are few.

Coming from Somalia to Sweden is like before and after Christ - there's a big difference.

Three of the boys here trained in Cuba for one month. I'd like to do exchanges with different clubs in Europe. The kids need to see other people, countries.

I believe in multiculturalism. As Europe tries to close the doors the boys from Senegal say: 'We're coming in, because you cannot close the door'.

The Swedish policy towards immigrants is much better than many other places. The only problem is they want you to speak the language - and I agree with them. You have to communicate.

At least here people have warm water and a warm place to stay. Racism is not an issue here. I've turned the tables - people want to see me!

Country profile: Sweden
08 Sep 06 |  Country profiles

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