Escapes Mainstream Society: Built a Home and Gave Birth in the Woods

Runar-og-Alice-portrett1 - BodøNu– We just want to be free, and give our daughter what we believe is a safe childhood, the new parents Runar Muhammad Jordahl and Alice says.

In December 2012, Alice gave birth to a baby girl in the woods near Bodø in a cabin Jordahl had built himself. He worked day and night for two months to build the two-story home.

The cabin has a cellar where they store food, and a stove. Along with a tarp used as roof, the stove is the only object that is not harvested from the forest.

– We spent last summer gathering food that we ate during the winter. You can eat a lot from the forest, although most people in this country think it is just potatoes and carrots you can eat. Birch, ferns and willow are excellent nutrition, the couple says to newspaper Bodø Nu.

– How do you solve the hygiene issues?

– We heat water on the stove. For laundry we use soap, but also birch and ash works well.  For the baby we only use cloth diapers, and we wash them in zinc buckets.

During the weeks after birth the family stayed in the cabin, but the joy would soon come to an end. Jordahl injured his knee, and was no longer able to provide enough food and water. They were forced to seek refuge with friends.

– The first weeks we were incredibly happy. We lived in the woods with our child, with lots of food and we had no concerns. Now, we have to stay in the city, in ordinary houses, because we feel forced by the Norwegian Child Welfare Services, Jordahl says.

(article continues)Runar-og-Alice-reportasje3 BodøNuAfter receiving an expression of concern, the Child Welfare contacted the couple. They were worried because the girl was not registered, and because she was born in the forest.

– She was not born outdoors. She was born inside our home in nearly 86 F (30 C) degrees. It was a misunderstanding, says Jordahl.

– I tried to explain the Child Welfare that our child is in excellent health. Why should they tell me that we cannot raise our child this way? Why should we be forced to live in a society that makes us sacrifice our principles? I see many things I do not like about the way children are being brought up in our community, but I do not demand that other parents change their lifestyle. We just want acceptance for the way we live. We want to raise our child to think for herself and to choose for herself, says Alice.

– I think this is about ignorance and prejudice. They see how my hair is, what clothes I wear, and they seem to think that I’m a hobo living in a container. But the truth is that we are fully able to raise our child in a responsible manner. Many people are afraid of the unknown, says Jordahl.


The article has received hundreds of comments after which most are supportive to the couple’s original lifestyle. One of the comments is posted by “Heidi”:

(…) While pregnant, I moved to Alaska and lived on the outskirts of a small Eskimo village of 180 inhabitants until my son was ten months. I learned what type of moss I could use for the diapers, how to carry my baby on my back in -40 degrees, what I could gather from nature, fishing and hunting in the different seasons, preparation of skin without chemicals and lots of advice in relation to breastfeeding, baby food, etc. When I told the local women that we had our own children’s rooms, they could not understand why because then you are not able to watch your child. (…) The people I lived with had an incredible amount of knowledge. The female community was so strong that I felt much safer there than when I gave birth to my second child in Oslo a few years later. (…) Imagine if people could be as involved in the children who come home to empty houses after school, and that have parents who do not really have time to talk to them. Imagine children who have all the toys but too rarely have someone who smiles and laughs with them. (…) I think this little girl is very privileged. So let’s wish them the best of luck.


Text translated and modified by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews

Source and photos: Bodø Nu

Categories: Quirky

2 replies

  1. Well, it’s not for everyone. My only question would be do these people really have the necessary skills to live long-term in such a primitive way? The commenter, “Heidi”, had a vastly different situation. She was surrounded by a community that could help and teach her. I’ll be the first to admit modern society has a lot of problems with the way children are raised, so I can applaud them for wanting something better for their child and themselves.

    • D.D Syrdal:

      I do agree with you in the fact that this is not for everyone, since you would have to possess a set of skills that to most people are not common. But, to shed some light on your question: I have been a vistor at Jordahls cabins several times there, as well as spendig days there alone when he has been traveling elsewhere (This is before the birth of the child), and my impression is that these people are very capable of providing and planing in such a manner that both themself and the child will live happy lives. I often stayed there during the winters, and it could be as cold and stormy on the outside as it was warm and cozy inside the cabins, We would sit there without our clothes on eventually having to open the “door” slightly to let some air in.
      And when it came to food and water there was always all kinds of niceness there. A lot of dried fruits and berries and so on, and icecold fresh water from the nearby current.

      I hope this gave you some sort of a good read, and may your days be beautiful!

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