"We avoid having to do this in Norway," said Katrine Apeland. "While water is a matter of course for us, other must carry it for hours to get water to the home."
It's Saturday morning outside the Lompensenteret shopping center. Along with Jostein Lyngøy, she has just paid 200 kroner for a canister and when it is filled with water she will carry it to The Governor of Svalbard's official residence. The journey takes slightly less than ten minutes and Apeland will have opportunities to empty the canister bin if she wants to.
"But I have not thought about doing that," she said.
Among the various initiatives this year to raise money for the telethon was acquiring the 25-liter containers. They were sold, filled with water and then carried over Longyeardalen. A total of 22 container were sold Saturday.
"I will carry it all the way," said Silvia Galli, who lifted the container onto her head after it was filled with ten liters of water.
"But it is probably a bit heavy," she said as she started her solitary march.
"Water changes everything" is the translated official title of this year's telethon organized by Norwegian Church Aid and the goal is to provide clean water to one million people in eight countries. Local campaign leader Anne Lise Sandvik said she believes it's for most people's good to be reminded how easy they have it.
Sets a record
The telethon has become something of an event, and the lineup of initiatives and events is long during the weeks before NRK's TV auction. Longyearbyen School, kindergartens, workplaces and individuals have done their best to bring in money. The school and kindergartens together received 150,000 kroner, and on Sunday youths with canisters also went door-to-door in Longyearbyen collecting donations.When they returned, they had collected 59,069 kroner.
The telethon culminated with the annual live auction, where the restaurant at the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel was packed.
"This is the place where we contribute to a better world," said Longyearbyen Mayor Christin Kristoffersen before the auctioneer proceeded.
An annual launching cruise around Spitsbergen for two aboard the Norwegian Polar Institute's Lance research vessel sold for 126,000 kroner. A "two cooks, one night" offered by Jørn Hansen and Steve Daldorff Torgersen auctioned for 47,000 kroner, while Stian Løkser set the record for his bid on a polar bear pelt donated annually, offering 100,000 kroner. Last year's pelt went for 95,000 kroner.
"That is not much when you consider that it goes to a good cause. And it's a good memory and a very good thing to have for one's self," said Løkser with a satisfied look at the polar bear pelt that was provided by The Governor of Svalbard and auctioned off by Christian Svarstad.
More than a million
"Very fun! This is probably a chapter on Svalbard where you do things you have not done before," said Svarstad, who works as a police chief inspector for the governor.
When the auction concluded at 10:30 p.m. Sunday, a total of 1,015,380 kroner stood in the account.
As of Tuesday, every resident in Norway had donated an average of 47.1 kroner. At the top of the list was Svalbard, with an average of 366.06 kroner. Sandvik said she believes the sum will be even greater because there are still more local fundraising events for the campaign, and she isn't hiding that she's thrilled.
"That's what I think is so funny," she said. "Firstly, we're doing the same old activities that we've had all these years. Then there are all the antics from people."
Going back to Saturday's carrying of water. Apeland and Randi Margrethe Mathiasdatter Larsen are a little more than halfway through it as they go over a bridge, each carrying their own water container on top of their head.
"It's getting hard and this is only ten liters," Larsen said. "They spend much of the day's energy on water carrying."
Soon after, Halvard Pedersen passed accompanied by Nora (5½) and Amund (3½). Daddy was carrying a big container, while the kids had their own little containers in their backpacks.
"A terrific offer," he said. "For us it is very instructive. Then we'll talk about how lucky we are."