Sweden's Wild West Response to a Refugee Crisis
In 1966, a successful Swedish businessman started High Chaparral as a place where he could hang out with his friends and customers and make business deals. The concept became very prosperous and so he went a step further and decided to make it extra special by building a citadel with enough room for over 500 people.
High Chaparral is now a very big theme park located in Kulltorp, Sweden. It opens during the summer months; mostly from May to August. It is a full portrayal of the North American West complete with cowboys and real Native Americans.
The ongoing war in Syria triggered a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. Modern history had not seen such a huge wave of refugees until ISIS’s excessive violence forced countless men, women, and children to flee the safety of their homes. They had no other choice but to leave because their cities were literally on fire.
Sweden became the first European country to announce that it would grant asylum to all the Syrians who were fleeing the war and who applied. They were ready to receive them. In 2015 around 163,000 refugees migrated to Sweden, of which most were from running out of Syria.
Since it’s closed for most of the year the current owner of High Chaparral, Emil Erlandsson, agreed that the place should be used as a refugee camp. Of course most of the refugees have very little knowledge about what it represents and how the first settlers in the western United States were in a sense refugees too. All they know is that they needed a place to stay and High Chaparral willingly opened its doors to them.
At the theme park the refugees are treated with the utmost respect and consideration and the children even receive Swedish and English lessons during the day.
However, when May comes around, the Swedish government will have to find another place for the refugees to live, because that’s when High Chaparral will reopen to the public as a theme park.
Although the refugees hold the hope of returning to their beloved country some day, they know that it might be an impossible dream. The cities lie in ruins and there are no places that are safe enough to live. Had it not been for the Swedish government, the lives of these families would have been shattered. Watch this short film now.