Saturday, 7 February 2015

A little less conversation

So I told you about the project I started in December last year, where we collected donations for our Syrian refugees who arrived in my hometown around September. I thought some of you might be interested in how this whole thing went. So we collected around 2 full trucks of clothing, kitchen utensils, TVs and children´s toys. Most of the stuff went to the refugees who had already been here for a longer time, mostly families. The place we collected all the stuff was full and I thought it might take days to sort everything out, but luckily around 25 students and pupils came to help separate the men´s clothes from women´s clothes etc. After the first truck left to bring the donations to the approximately 250 refugees, we took our cars and drove with the donations for the Syrian men to their home far far outside the town. They had no clue who we were what we what we were doing there. They invited us for warm coffee and apple juice, told us their terrifying stories how they got here, and taught us to save our peace and beautiful country. It was just overwhelming. After they received all the stuff we collected, we went to play basketball and spoke more about their life in Syria. They were all medicine students, architects, engineers or had similarly high qualifications. We watched a video of one man having a surgery and the other one told us how he had to sit 11 days in a boat from Alexandria to Italy, left with nothing. After a few wonderful hours we had to say goodbye but we knew we will come back. I wrote to our newspaper to publish the success of our story and tried also to get donations they needed, which we just found out because we went there: we got children´s books, suitcases, and a receiver for the TV´s so they can at least have some entertainment in a language they were trying to teach each other every day. 

It´s making me sad being back in Berlin now and not able to do more for them. I am trying to get vouchers for museums and other activities but you realise very quickly that this is just the start. It´s more about talking to people and discussing with people who are afraid and worried about the situation. I went to a panel discussion in Berlin which was organised by the #gehtauchanders association. I translated for a Sudanese refugee and got the chance to tell them the story of my home town. It is just one tiny example which shows me and makes me believe that everyone can do something. I really hope to get more people affected and mobilise them into more involvement, interest and engagement.