Inga Finsen, multilinguist and Mijas volunteer for 19 years
Inga Finsen, 82 , originally from Denmark arrived on the Costa del Sol in 1986 and has been volunteering in Mijas since 1997.
Her ability to speak languages, along with her big heart and her desire to help others, has helped her win the friendship of many of those around her, especially among Scandinavian residents, health workers and security forces. Inga speaks six languages, (Danish, Spanish , English, Swedish, Norwegian and Italian) and can also get by in German and Greek.
When she first came to the Costa del Sol she worked for 14 years at a herbalist shop in Los Boliches and taught Spanish to Danes.
On Mondays she helps with translations at the Guardia Civil in La Cala and on Fridays she assists Scandinavian patients and Spanish doctors at the health centre in Las Lagunas.
Here she usually helps between 5 and 15 patients by making appointments , filling in forms and translating the patients’ ailments and the doctors’ advice. “I like what I do and it’s always good to learn medical terms. I’ve never had any problems, except once, ten years ago, when a Swedish patient went to hit me because he wasn’t happy with an appointment he’d been given. Luckily, a member of staff was there in time.”
The work Finsen does is possible thanks to her gift for languages, although she shrugs this off. “Denmark is a small country and we have to speak more languages. When I was young, Ilearnt English and German at school. Some of my family is Swedish and Norwegian is similar to Danish. I already spoke these languages at 19 when I finished my studies.”
From Helsingor to Rome
At this age, Finsen left Helsingor in Denmark to go to Rome, where she spent six months with an Italian-Swedish family and started work at Escandinavian Airlines as a teacher and later in the offices. She lived for 10 years in the ‘Eternal City’, where she married an Italian in 1958, although they later divorced.
When she returned to her country in 1962, she married a Danish pilot, the “man of her dreams and the father of her two children”, who she had met in Italy. With him, she lived in Denmark, where she taught Italian to her compatriots and in Athens where they spent two years and she learned Greek.
Torremolinos to Mijas
Life was kind to heruntil she suffered two tragedies: the death of her husband in 1980 and problems with her son in relation to drugs. Because of this, she came to Spain in 1986 where three years later her son died. However, far from falling into depression, she turned to helping others in the best way she could through the use of her various languages.
“I came over to Spain at the time it joined the EU. I already spoke Spanish from the time I lived in Italy,” Finsen explains. To begin with she lived for two years in Playamar, Torremolinos, but she quickly fell in love with Mijas. “I was the first Dane to work as an interpreter at the town hall, thanks to Anette Skou (coordinator at the foreign department) after I saw an advert in the weekly newspaper Mijas Semanal. “When I started there were some English translators, but they needed someone who could speak Danish. I have always liked helping people without asking for anything in return”. The only thing she receives from the town hall is a monthly voucher of 45 euros for petrol to get from Alhaurin el Grande where she now lives to Mijas.
“I can’t stay at home,” she says. “I’ve got a big plot and two dogs. I like taking them for walks, reflexology and reading history books and crime novels.”
Except for the four weeks she spends in Denmark - two in summer and two at Christmas - to visit her son, Niels and three grandchildren, she devotes every Monday and Friday to others. This is the sort of generosity that is much needed nowadays.source suringenglish