Dear Berlin friends and friends from anywhere far and wide:
In the beginning of August, I heard about the dramatic situation outside of the Landesamt für Gesundheit und Soziales (LAGeSo) in my neighbourhood Berlin-Moabit. For hundreds of people who had to flee from their home country and who have been on their way for months, LAGeSo is the first place to go in order to apply for asylum in Germany. The office (run by the Berlin government) seems to be totally overwhelmed which leads to people standing outside for days and also overnight in order to get through to talk to someone to ask for (and hopefully to get) shelter and support.
They all depend on the help of volunteers who gathered through the Facebook initiative “Moabit hilft” (Moabit helps) as there is no food and no medical help given by the authorities. Witnessing those dramatic conditions has shaken me quite a bit. Volunteers who brought food, water or sanitary products to the location were immediately surrounded by people who snatched the things out of their hands – scenes of desperation, in the heart of Berlin. Just ten minutes later I was one of those volunteer helpers myself. The most difficult thing for me was to decide to whom I would give some food in that moment and who would not get anything from me. I just can not get used to being begged for basic items of food by these grown women and men. They are people just like you and me. For many, poverty came without a warning. For many, all got lost – all they ever had before, even their family and friends.
They come to Germany, because they have suffered the worst. But for many, after arriving in Germany the nightmare is not over yet. A young man gets the message via his phone, that his brother has just died in an explosion back home. He collapses, he does not want to believe the tragic news. Another man attempts to kill himself. A pregnant woman has been waiting for days to get any support – after 4 days she is brought to hospital with the concern that her unborn baby has died.
These people get called “Flüchtlinge” / refugees. As if they were some kind of 2nd class people. As if they were any different from us. My girlfriend inspired me to think further about the word “Flüchtling”. Since then, I feel it holds a certain discrimination. So we call them now “humans who had to flee”!
Remembering all the grateful faces and beautiful moments gives me strength. I have met many great people: people of various (ethnic) backgrounds, who reached their destination being exhausted, but also happy and full of hope. Some even became volunteers themselves, who supported each other and who made the best out of the situation. And never to underestimate the many volunteers of “Moabit hilft”, who dropped everything else in order to help to change the undignified situation of the countless waiting people for the better. Thank you all for the experience!
Time has come to take action and to take responsibility for the things that happen just in front of our eyes and in front of our doorstep. I live in a country which, being on position 3 for arms exports worldwide, is also responsible for war and displacement. How could I any longer keep my eyes closed and how could I remain silent? Only together we can set visible signs. And speak for those who were born or still have to live under less privileged circumstances than ourselves.
For those of you who also wish to help, visit:
Infos on initiatives close to you: