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Tvind is the name of an international school centre in the small town of Ulfborg in Denmark, founded in 1970. The school, which claims to have been the driving force behind many pedagogical changes in Denmark, has grown to more than 30 private schools throughout Denmark.[1]

As an alternative education to the formal education system in Denmark, the Tvind schools have been controversial in their programs and attitudes toward education. In particular, The Necessary Teachers Training College, which educates primary and secondary school teachers, has been very influential over the years.[2]

But Tvind is also controversial for reasons far beyond its philosophy on teaching. There have been critical media reports worldwide as well as investigations conducted by European governments, and other allegations critical of Tvind. (see Allegations and investigations)


Tvind began when a group of young Danish teachers got together in the late 1960s with plans to form a traveling folk high school. They wanted to gain knowledge about the Third World and to find solutions for combating poverty. They decided to travel in an old bus to see the world and meet people from other countries and different backgrounds.[3]

This idea developed into The Traveling Folk High School, which is based on the Scandinavian tradition of 'Folk High schools'. Such traditional schools allow for adults to participate in continuing education. In Denmark, these Folk High Schools are public institutions subsidized and supported by the Ministry of Education.[4][5]

As The Traveling Folk High School was created by young people who wanted to learn about the world, it attracted like-minded young people. The school quickly grew, opening similar schools as well as Continuation schools for teens between 13 and 16 years. A Teachers Training college, 'The Necessary Teachers Training college' ('DNS'), domestic science schools, boarding schools for children, a seaman school and 'Small Schools' for mainly youngsters with special educational needs were established as well.[1] Schools were also established in other countries.[3]

Location of Tvind[edit]

In 1972 the Tvind base was founded in West Jutland on a plot of farming land called Tvind, where several schools were built as well as a teachers training college. At that time, all of Tvind's schools received public subsidies in accordance with the very liberal education laws in Denmark.[5]

Progression in the 1970s and 1980s[edit]

More 'Tvind Schools' began to emerge and after 25 years more than 30 schools have been established all over Denmark and some abroad. An estimated 40,000 children and adults have attended Tvind Schools since the first school was established in 1970.[citation needed]

Tvind soon became a popular center for youth counter culture in the 1970s and 1980s. They undertook social development projects in the third world and developed some groundbreaking social and environmental experiments. The world's largest electricity producing turbine, known as Tvindkraft or Tvind Power, was constructed on the school grounds in Tvind in the mid 1970s in a massive collaboration effort of volunteers, teachers and students.[6]

Danish government subsidies, Special Act and Danish Supreme Court decision[edit]

From 1970 to 1996, the Tvind schools received government financial support and supervision in accordance with Danish laws for private schools. Official support of The Necessary Teacher Training College, Tvind's volunteer training school in Denmark, had ended four years earlier, in 1992.[7][8]

A Special Act passed in 1996 by the Danish Parliament discontinued the official support beginning January 1, 1997. This act prevented the Tvind schools from receiving such support under the general rules, which they otherwise would have been entitled to.[9]

In 1999, the Danish Supreme Court — in a unanimous, 11 judge ruling — set aside the Special Act on the grounds that it had circumvented the Danish Constitution. The controversial decision was the first time in the history of Denmark's Constitution that the Supreme Court had ever discarded an act as being unconstitutional.[9]

The Court's decision happened to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Danish Constitution.[9]

Despite the Court's ruling, the Tvind schools never regained financial support from the Danish government.[10][11][12]

Tvind today[edit]

Fundraising, income generating activities and employment in other enterprises has become a successful part of the curriculum in the schools for adults, "Travelling Folk High Schools" and the "Necessary Teacher Training College".[13][14][15][16][17]

In the schools for children and youngsters the student base was shifted so that the focus is now on students who had a bad start in life, being subjected to abuse, being involved with alcohol abuse or other drug abuse, being from immigrant or refugee families with conflict ridden background or being orphans, etc. Financial support for training and education of such young people are available from the social services of the municipalities in Denmark, which are now providing the funds for the school fees and boarding fees. Those schools were named "The Small Schools" because of many smaller units with different programs.[18]

An estimated 40,000 children, youth and adults have until 1996 attended the Tvind schools since the first school was established in 1970.[citation needed]

School types[edit]

The Travelling Folk High Schools[edit]

The Travelling Folk High Schools were schools for young adults. The curriculum was the social, political, economical and cultural conditions of the world.[1][3]

The Travelling Folk High Schools did away with the classrooms as the only room for teaching and learning and took in peasants in the fields, workers in the workshops and factories, students and professors in the universities, house wives in their homes, politicians in the parliaments and ministers in the government buildings as teachers for the visiting and asking and investigating students.[1][3]

The schools became known for the travels which took place in old busses converted to classroom, living and study-area, library, kitchen and sleeping room. The busses went from Denmark across Asia to India and across Sahara to West Africa. Later on travels also were made by plane to other parts of the world such as Latin America and Southern Africa.[3]

Upon returning from the travels the students produced slide shows, speeches, lectures, films, books, plays, songs etc. and went on tours bringing all their experiences to the public and having lots of discussions.[3]

The experience and the meetings with the many poor people resulted in new programs at the Travelling Folk High Schools, where preparation for and work as "Development Instructor" on a development project in the Third World became part of the programs of the schools.[3]

Special programs were established in the late 1970s and the beginning 1980s for young people from the so-called Frontline States in Southern Africa. The programs emphasized on vocational skills. Students from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia and Guinea Bissau completed such programs.[19]

The Necessary Teachers Training College[edit]

The Necessary Teacher Training College was established in 1972. The training leads to diploma as primary and secondary school teacher. The program has 3 praxis areas:

  • The international practice field, where the students learn about the world. The program is similar to that of the Travelling Folk High Schools.[20]
  • The national practice field area, where the students learn about their countries and save money to pay for their education. They work in different enterprises, factories, shops, building sites, cleaning companies, offices etc... In this manner they learned in praxis about the situation of the parents of their future pupils and students.[21]
  • The school practice field where the students half time are in practice as teacher trainees in schools and half time study the traditional teacher training subjects and pass the exams.[22]

The Continuation Schools and the Free Schools[edit]

The first Continuation School for students from 14–18 years old was established in Tvind in 1974 and was followed by 6 other continuation schools and 6 international continuation schools with government financial support and supervision. The first International Continuation School received financial support from the EU Commission as well. A Danish Continuation School is a boarding school with the same curriculum and exams as the public schools, but the program may be very different.[1]

The First Free School for pupils from 7–16 years old was established in 1976 and was followed by 6 other Free Schools, 5 of them boarding schools, with financial support and supervision from someone chosen in the general public or from the municipality. A Danish "Free School" has the same basic curriculum as the public school. But the program may be very different.[23][24]

These two school types were discontinued after the Government withdrew its financial support from 1997.[25]

The Small Schools and The Second Generation School Cooperation[edit]

In 1979, the Small Schools started operations.

Many of the students are so-called "difficult" students. They are students with a bad start in life, being left on their own by adults, with backgrounds as runaways, being subject to abuse, criminality in the making, alcohol abuse and violence etc. Such students have often so-called "bad" behaviour, hardly any trust or confidence in adult people and react in many anti-social ways.[26][27]

Today the Small Schools have developed many different profiles for the programs. And the schools are organized in school centres where the actual "school" is located and where there may be other types of schools, such as the Travelling Folk High School or the Necessary Teacher Training College. The Small School Students live in "care homes", which are small units in a distance of 10-30 kilometres from the school centre.[28]

Other school types[edit]

There were also other school types such as domestic science schools and a seamen's school approved by the Danish government.[29]

Pedagogical principles, practical work and DMM[edit]

Pedagogical principles[edit]

The following pedagogical principles have been fundamental in the programs of the schools and their implementation:

  • Interacting in the learning process between practical studies and theoretical studies is indispensable, it is a precondition for learning.
  • The higher degree of reality in education, the more the learning.
  • The greater the context, the greater the overview, and the greater the understanding.
  • Motivation is a structural part of the daily life of the school.
  • To go in depth demands to go more in depth, work demands more work.
  • Autonomy promotes understanding of the situation and makes possible more personal creativity in all areas. Democratic participation is a precondition for personal balance.
  • Collectivity is the partner of aloneness. Collectivity is an element in building a motivated democracy.
  • Liberation in the relationship between conception and action.
  • Mobility as the precondition for the sufficiency of the surface of contact – or in other words: From one spot you see only so far – even if you have eyes on stalks.
  • Knowledge is a precondition for the completion of the experience. Integrate the teacher.[30][31]

Practical work[edit]

It has always been a practice in all the schools that the students have participated in and on many cases have had full responsibility for cleaning, maintenance of the buildings, cooking, part of the economy, gardening, repair of cars etc. This has had the consequence that the students have learned to take responsibility for and to handle issues and problems in the daily life, to find solutions and to rely on their own capabilities.[32]


DMM was developed in 1995. It is a revolutionary educational concept that turns the traditional class room lessons with the teacher at the blackboard and the students listening behind their desks, oin its head. In the DMM system, the student is at the center of his or her own education, planning what to study, at which level to study and when to study the different subjects.[33]

DMM stands for "Determination of Modern Methods". The main disciplines within the content of learning are Studies, Courses and Experiences.[33]

A digitally designed program was created to facilitate the newly defined educational method by the use if information technology. Each student has his/her own computer. Each school has a server with the digital DMM program with all its content: The School's Digital Library.[33]

Studies: In the Digital Library are all the subjects to be studied in order to complete the curriculum and pass the exams. Each subject is divided into sections representing different themes and again divided into tasks. Each task has an inspiring introduction and an instruction to the student about what to do. All the tasks include contact with the teacher, sending answers or reports and the final results. Own studies put the students at the center of their own learning. It is not about being present, keeping quiet, listening to the teacher. It is about being in the driver seat yourself. The demands on the personal effort are incontrovertible. It is a system, of education that sets clear demands, but simultaneously gives freedom to develop and exploit one's own potential. Old barriers that often hindered the strongest and weakest students are gone, because everybody is not forced to work at the same level and at the same speed. A greater learning ability among the whole student body is built up by having the individual student at the center of his or her own learning process. The students learn to become entrepreneurs who are active in shaping a rich variety of skills and functional knowledge and able to solve a broad range of tasks, thus picking up the DMM method can be used not only in learning but in life also, contributing to a good future for themselves and others.[33] Half of the education time is used for studies.[33]

Courses: Courses are lessons involving the whole class. The courses are interdisciplinary lessons led by the teacher. The courses touch all kinds of important matters within politics, science, nature, human life, ethics, philosophy, the universe etc. The courses are where the teacher performs. A quarter for the education time is used for courses.[33]

Experiences: The schools have always valued experiences as part of school life. At the schools many cultural traditions, travels, out of school activities and outreach programs have been part of the yearly school programs ever since the first school started. Being personally stimulated bye a variety of experiences is an important part of a person's life. Many of the students have not been used to getting new experiences. They need experiences that create a whirlwind of emotions, from happiness to surprise, indignation, anger and a deep wonder about the world with all its living organisms, its life forms and its absurd contradictions. Experiences are not things that just happen. They are part of the program. There is no doubt that experiences have at least as much influence on a student's life, on his development and his ability to live a full life, as studies and courses. Shared experiences such as sporting events, theater competitions,[34] classical concerts [35] and building actions are part of the educational programs.[33]

The experiences with DMM are the following:

  • The students become the center of their own education and development.
  • It builds up the student's ability to learn.
  • It makes the students more productive and creative.
  • It promotes and strengthens their character.
  • It strengthens the students' humanity and through this the community spirit at the school.
  • It expands the teacher's capacity.[33]

Tvindkraft turbine[edit]

The wind turbine at Tvind
Front view of the down-wind wind mill at Ulfsborg, Denmark. Turbine built by Tvind

Teachers at the schools in Tvind decided in late 1974 to build the great wind turbine Tvindkraft (Tvind Power in English) to produce the energy needed by the schools in Tvind, at the same time as the Swedish Nuclear Power Plant Barsebäck was about to commence production of electricity. Tvindkraft started to produce electricity in 1978 and was the world's biggest wind turbine with a 53 m concrete tower and 3 wing blades of 27 m length each for a number of years. Tvindkraft continues to produce electricity as planned, while Barsebäck has been closed down. The world has since seen an explosion in the number of really big wind turbines in many countries. The Windmill Team was the group of people who build the turbine. It consisted of some teachers from the schools at Tvind together with different people from all over the country and from abroad, who had come to build the turbine. They all worked under the same conditions. They did not receive a salary, but board and lodging and pocket money. Some of the students joined in from time to time. The building of Tvindkraft served from the outset several purposes:

  • to produce the energy needed for the schools in Tvind,
  • to be a very solid argument in the popular debate at the time for and against introduction of nuclear power,
  • to show the strength and the power of people who have come together to work together to build Tvindkraft – the power of self-reliance,
  • to show that the power from the wind in the long perspective will be rather cheap, because the wind cannot be monopolized.[36][37][38]

Tvindkraft has since supplied the energy needed for the schools in Tvind. The building of Tvindkraft inspired and gave rise to a growing wind mill industry in Denmark.[39][40][41][42] The then HQ of Vestas Wind Systems was located only 25 km away. Tvindkraft receives a lot of attention and a lot of guests from Denmark and from abroad for being the first among the really big wind turbine, especially during the building and in the first years of operation. In December 2008, Tvindkraft as part of the schools in Tvind was awarded a European Prize, the Solar Prize, as a recognition of the pioneering effort of the decision to build, as well as actually building, the turbine in the 1970s. Tvindkraft received the award in the category Education. The German organisation Eurosolar awarded the prize and the following is quoted from Eurosolars motivation for the award: "During the years of the oil crisis in the 1970s ... the Danish schools in Tvind set out to build a 2 MW wind turbine in the year 1975. Students and volunteers from numerous countries came to Tvind in order to help the teachers and the students mount the 'Tvindkraft' (wind power) turbine. ... Only because of the innovative and the courageous work at the schools in Tvind was it possible to realize the 'Tvindkraft' turbine. Congratulations to the schools in Tvind. Winner of the European Solar Prize 2008." [6]

The Teachers Group[edit]

The teachers employed by the Tvind Schools in Denmark formed the Teacher Group in the early years. The Teachers Group or TG is not a legal body, but is way of sharing life and does not have legal personality. Most of the teachers in the Danish schools in the 1970s and in the early 1980s pooled their savings and invested these savings in acquisition of the school buildings via the Private Foundation Fælleseje, which became the owners of the buildings. The Teachers Group bases its principles along the lines of having a common economy, common time and common distribution (of what actual work position to take up).[43]

International Perspective[edit]

International issues have always been an integral part of the school programs in practice and in theory. A few out of many examples are:

  • The entire program of the Travelling Folk High School.[1][3]
  • The meeting with the world's poor inspired teachers and present and former students to establish Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) which later became Humana People to People Movement a development organization which now operates in more than 40 countries.[44]
  • Students have participated in DAPPs and HPPs projects making flea markets in Scandinavia, fundraising, working in projects in Africa as building constructors, participating in alphabetization campaigns, as solidarity workers, as development instructors in "Child Aid" projects, "Total Control with the Epidemic" TCE (HIV-AIDS) projects, educational projects, "Farmers Club" projects and much more.[3]
  • Students at the Travelling Folk High Schools have been trained to become "Solidarity Workers" or "Development Instructors".[3]
  • International summer camps have been held in Tvind with young participants from all over Europe and Northern Africa.
  • The schools have opened their buildings for Palestinian and Tamil refugees.[19]
  • Young people from Southern Africa have received scholarships from DAPP and been educated at the schools for periods of up to 1 year.[3]

Controversies and opposition[edit]

As the number of schools grew in the '70s, '80s and '90s from 1 to 30, as the number of students exploded, and as the financial support received from the government grew proportionally — suspicion emerged. Controversies emerged as the school programs were groundbreaking, as the challenges for students and teachers were very high, as the pedagogical ideas were put into practice, and as many new thoughts were formed and expressed and put into action. The programs dealt with some of the pressing issues at the time — such as what happens in the world today, how teachers shall be educated, what to do with so-called "difficult" students when such ideas were put into action — and disagreement and even anger emerged. Opposition was raised over the impact of 30 schools emerging in 25 years with total new and challenging programs in a tiny country with an area of 42,915.7 km2 and a population of 5,659,715.[45]

Some mistakes were made on the part of the schools and not all issues were handled in the best way. Such mistakes were often taken out of their context and used by media and others to create a fuss, earn money or create opposition.[5][46][47][48]

Investigations by authorities[edit]

The Danish authorities carried out extra investigations to check if everything was in order. For example, the Danish Public Accounts Committee made a special investigation in 1979-80, the tax authorities made a special investigation in 1995-1997, and the police made an unannounced visit to check visas of all foreign students in 1993. The only irregularities found were minor, disputable, and corrected subsequently when needed.[45][48]

Politicians and political opposition[edit]

Some politicians were in opposition and some supported the schools. Now and then questions from the members of Parliament to ministers led to investigations. The opposition grew and led the Minister of Education to declare he wanted the schools to be closed, but it could not be done administratively because the schools adhered to the laws of the country. Therefore, a Special Act withdrawing government support from named schools was put before the Parliament and passed.[45][48]

The schools and their pedagogy had not any political affiliation but have received fierce criticism and opposition from the right for being left wing as well as from the left for being authoritarian and using capitalistic approaches.[45][46]

Supreme Court of Denmark[edit]

As described above the full court of eleven Supreme Court Justices declared unanimously the special act unconstitutional. It was the first and only time in the 150 years of the Danish constitution an act had been declared unconstitutional.[9][45]

Criminal allegations and two verdicts[edit]

In 2001 and 2002, eight individuals from the Teachers Group were charged with embezzlement and tax fraud against a private foundation which had as its purpose to support humanitarian causes, to protect the environment and to promote research. The allegations were that these eight had caused funds to be used for private and commercial purposes and not for the purpose of the foundation.[45][49] Seven of the eight persons were fully acquitted after 160 days of hearings in court. One person received a suspended jail sentence of one year for acts he had admitted before the hearings started. This happened in 2006. The verdict filled 4,200 pages.[49]

In Denmark the prosecution can appeal an acquitting verdict to a higher court (contrary to common law jurisdictions as USA and England) and it did so in relation to six of the original eight but on a limited scope of the original charges. In Denmark, however, a notice of appeal has to be served personally. Five of the six persons had not been living in Denmark for several up to fifteen years and returned to their home countries after the acquittal without being served with an appeal.

The appeals were only made 12 days after the acquittals and subsequent to demands made publicly by the chairman of the Legal Commission of the Danish Parliament and other politicians.[50]

The notice of appeal was served for the one person living in Denmark. The appeal trial has been completed and that person was declared guilty and received a jail sentence of 30 months, which was served in an open prison.[51] Later a notice of appeal was served for one more person.[52] No notice of appeal has been served for the remaining four.[53]

Some media and politicians did not make any distinction between the above schools and the individuals indicted and later acquitted in this criminal matter. They forget that no schools were involved in the trials and seven of the eight persons were fully acquitted.[45][54][55][56] It has been said more than once that the media has been playing to the tune of the prosecution, by legal experts and by others.[57][58]

The criminal matter has further been described as Denmark's legal showdown with "Tvind".[45][59] It has been added that this criminal matter undoubtedly forms part of a greater context of a political nature.[45]

The above four persons not having received the notice of appeal have been living abroad before becoming indicted; they left Denmark after being acquitted and before the decision by the prosecution to appeal the acquittals. No court in Denmark has admitted the appeal by the prosecution and the above four persons are not "fugitives" from the law.

The Appeal Court verdict of 30 months (above) has come under severe criticism in a leading Danish legal journal for being extremely complicated and not easily accessible — from a factual as well as a legal point of view. The grounds of the Appeal Court verdict are labelled as "noteworthy" and for being "not an everyday occurrence" and "exceptional".[45]

Media and controversies[edit]

Danish media and media in other countries have been extremely critical when reporting about "Tvind" for more than 30 years. There has been a consensus that everything "Tvind" was fair game for the media.[58]

It was noted by a commentator in a leading Danish newspaper after the first verdict that one should hope the it would be a signal to end an unpleasant and in every aspect uncritical partner race between the prosecution and Danish media.[58]

The leading prosecutor Poul Gade admitted after the acquittals that the prosecution from the outset did not have one single piece of evidence to get Mogens Amdi Petersen convicted. "That is why we chose to put forward a long row of circumstantial evidence which taken as a whole should prove Mogens Amdi Petersen guilty of embezzlement and tax evasion," said prosecutor Poul Gade to Denmarks Radio after the acquittals. (Translated from Danish.) [60]

A Danish lawyer with an intimate knowledge of the basis for the above special act compared in statements to a newspaper and on live TV Danish minister of education Ole Vig Jensen with Joseph Goebbels stating both ministers used lies systematically to fight political opponents. "Send a bouquet of flowers to Dr. Goebbels. He would enjoy what is happening now", said the lawyer and added on live TV: "Exchange the concept Tvind teachers for the word Jews, and this is precisely what we are talking about." (Translated from Danish.) The minister of education ordered a trial brought against the lawyer. The Regional Court of Appeal allowed in its judgement the statements of the lawyer in the circumstances and ordered the minister of education to pay costs.[61][62]

Former teachers and students[edit]

An estimated 40,000 children, youth and adults have until 1996 attended the Tvind schools since the first school was established in 1970. Thousands of students have attended since. A Google search for "Tvind 40,000 students" produced 3,750 hits, but the exact figure remains unknown. One of the first students wrote 25 years later:

"Many thousands of young and adults have been students at the Tvind Schools. Some of them couldn't stand it or accept the spirit and they have quite naturally criticised Tvind. By far the greatest number got something very valuable with them for their life. They went out and recommended Tvind so warmly that the school cooperative grew bigger and bigger throughout those 25 years elapsed since I was with the first team of the Travelling Folk High School in 1971." (Translated from Danish.)[46]

Allegations of organised criminal activity and cult status[edit]

According to a 2001 case summary by Danish police and Denmark's Public Prosecutor for Serious Economic Crime, Tvind's scope had by 1992 "expanded far beyond pure school activities." Such activities were said to include the ownership of Third World fruit plantations, farms, shoe factories, sawmills, aid agencies, used clothing shops as well as the leasing of property, ships and containers.[63]

The organisation has for decades generated considerable controversy worldwide. Numerous media reports as well as investigations by European governments suggest that Tvind's alleged controlling body, the "Teachers Group," is a political cult involved in financial criminal activities.[63][64][65][66][67]

In Denmark, Teachers Group leaders have been prosecuted for serious financial crimes, with two convictions in separate trials, in 2006 and 2009 respectively.[68][69]

Every year, alleged Tvind-run non-profit companies in the United States, Europe and elsewhere receive millions of dollars in governmental and private-sector funding intended for Tvind-related humanitarian programmes in Africa and other areas of the Third World. However, Danish prosecutors have claimed that Tvind members cleverly channelled a portion of funds earmarked for charitable use into purchases of property and luxury items, offshore tax havens and private business investments, all controlled by Tvind's top leaders.[63][70]

Tvind was founded c. 1970 by Mogens Amdi Petersen, then a young, radical idealist in Denmark. Handsome, charismatic and driven, Petersen is said to have collected about 40 followers and established a government-funded alternative school system for troubled youth in Denmark.[67][70]

Another type of Tvind institution, the "travelling folk high schools", were created to send teachers and students together to Third World countries with the ambition of improving living standards of the poor. Now collectively known as the "DRH Movement" (Den Rejsende Højskole in Danish), these schools train volunteers for humanitarian work overseas.

Some former DRH Movement students say that even after paying tuition of several thousand dollars, they were required to spend much of their time trying to raise yet more money by what some of them call begging in the streets. Students also complain that the training they received is not recognised by governments or aid agencies.[71][72][73][74]

In 1977, Tvind members founded the International Humana People to People Movement to oversee several self-described humanitarian aid projects in the Third World. In Scandinavia the group is known as "Ulandshjælp fra Folk til Folk" (UFF).[67]

Headquartered in Zimbabwe, Humana People to People claims on its website to be a "network of non-profit aid organizations in Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and Latin America, all working in the field of international solidarity, cooperation and development."[63][75]

But several programmes run by organisations that Humana People to People claims as its members have been criticised by former volunteers as being ineffective, culturally insensitive, environmentally unsustainable and even abusive toward volunteers.[66][76][77][78][79]

The Danish media began to suspect Tvind of fraud by the late 1970s.[67] Petersen, growing increasingly paranoid and claiming to be a target for the SIS and the CIA, disappeared one day in 1979, not to be seen again for the next 22 years. The elusive Dane is alleged to have continued to covertly run his organisation from various locations, subverting Tvind's original 'humanitarian' mission to create a lucrative financial web using standard money-laundering techniques. Petersen's network soon became a business empire based on property and used clothes collection.[70]

Tvind has since then grown into a global conglomerate with numerous profit-motivated enterprises reportedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Its interests range from farming and timber to property, retail clothing and furniture, with businesses in Europe, the United States, Brazil, Belize, Ecuador, Malaysia and China.[67]

Alleged Tvind-run organisations have placed tens of thousands of used clothes collection bins — most of these ostensibly for charitable purposes — throughout the United States and Western Europe. Humana People-to-People's donation bins can be found in many European countries except in Scandinavia, where clothes are collected under the name UFF.[63][79]

In the UK, clothes collection organisations said to be tied to Tvind include the for-profit companies Green World Recycling[80] and Planet Aid-UK,[81] as well as the charity called Development Aid from People to People UK (DAPP-UK).[82]

Tvind has also been linked to the College for International Co-operation and Development (CICD), located in Hull, East Yorkshire, England. Part of Tvind's "DRH Movement," this residential college advertises widely on the Internet as providing 'training' for young people wishing to volunteer in Africa. However, many former CICD students have complained about poor teaching, low-grade facilities, and being obliged to work long, unpaid hours collecting and sorting used clothes for commercial companies allegedly owned by Tvind. CICD has hundreds of clothes collection boxes across Northern England.[72][83][84]

In the United States, the non-profits Planet Aid[85][86][87][88] and Gaia Movement Living Earth Green World Action[74][89] and the for-profit company USAgain,[90][91][92][93] which have each placed thousands of clothes drop-off bins nationwide, have attracted significant unfavourable publicity over their business practices and alleged affiliation with Tvind. All three companies have denied any wrongdoing or a connection to Tvind, although executives of USAgain have publicly admitted to membership in the Tvind Teachers Group, and Planet Aid has stated that "less than 5%" of the 250 people working with the company belong to the group.[73][94]

There are three other alleged Tvind-run clothes collecting groups in the U.S., two of which are DRH Movement schools claiming to train volunteers for related humanitarian projects overseas: Institute for International Cooperation and Development (IICD), with branches located in Williamstown, Massachusetts and in Dowagiac, Michigan. But the IICD schools have elicited numerous complaints from former volunteers, with allegations ranging from low standards of "training," to dire living conditions, unreasonable work hours, bullying and even a "cult-like" atmosphere. Many of these volunteers also claim they were required to beg for money on American city streets and were exploited as free labor benefiting Tvind-owned businesses.[76][77][95][96][97][98] In June 2013, The two IICD schools changed their name to One World Center.[99]

A third DRH Movement school in the U.S. — Campus California, had been located in Etna, California, but reportedly closed under mysterious circumstances in December, 2009. The organisation has since relocated to Richmond, California, where it has continued with its used clothes collection bin operation in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Central Valley.[74][100] In November 2014, Campus California announced its new name, Recycle for Change.[101]

In February 2002, FBI agents in the U.S. arrested Amdi Petersen between international flights at Los Angeles International Airport. An arrest warrant on Petersen had been issued in 2000 by the international police agency Interpol. A federal judge extradited the lanky, silver-haired guru to Denmark, where he and his top assistants would face trial for a multimillion-dollar tax fraud and embezzlement scheme.[102]

The highly publicised trial began in March 2003. Three years later, on August 31, 2006, Petersen, Tvind spokesperson Poul Jørgensen, top aids Kirsten Larsen and Ruth Sejerøe-Olsen, former chairperson for Tvind's 'Humanitarian Foundation' Bodil Ross Sørensen, financial director Marlene Gunst, and lawyer Kirsten Fuglsbjerg (aka 'Christie Pipps') were all acquitted of charges. However, another former chairperson of Tvind's 'Humanitarian Foundation,' Sten Byrner, was found guilty of fraud and given a one-year conditional sentence.[68]

The Public Prosecutor in Denmark immediately appealed the verdict to a higher court. However, the appeal is still pending for Petersen and four of the accused, all of whom fled Denmark shortly after being acquitted by the lower court.[67]

Poul Jørgensen, who had remained in Denmark for the appeal trial, was found guilty of tax fraud and embezzlement in January 2009, and sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment.[69] According to Danish prosecutors, Jørgensen diverted millions of dollars earmarked for charitable use into private businesses owned by Tvind leaders.[63]

List of some Tvind schools[edit]

Den Rejsende Højskole (DRH) (The Travelling Folk High School)[edit]

Other schools[edit]

  • KNEC, Durban, South Africa
  • YID (Yunnan Institute of Development), Yunnan, China

Teams from Travelling Folk High Schools[edit]

DAPP Zambia Team 32


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External links[edit]

Tvind websites[edit]