Refugees are welcome in Hamburg!
I close my eyes and see posts, comments, pictures and videos I’ve been consuming the whole day in the social media.
I open my eyes and see new posts, new comments, new pictures and videos.
Fear & Pain
October 2014. Thousands of people go out to demonstrate against refugees in Dresden, Germany. Regularly. Every Monday. Every week the demonstration grows. 40.000 people. They call themselves Pegida. Media calls them “worried citizens”. I call them assholes without empathy. Most of my friends don’t take this movement serious. Some of them even tell me we should all listen what these “worried citizens” have to say. I say NO, I won’t. Since when are we supposed to listen to racists. I feel helpless.
None of them asked me what challenges I had (and still have) as a Turkish expat living in Germany. Instead they think it’s worth listening to people who claim non-Europeans and non-Christians have some kind of diseases. Racist comments like these become acceptable. It is freedom of opinion they say.
Racism is not freedom of opinion! It is a crime!
And again I watch another video captured in Syria. A whole neighborhood is bombed. A boy covered with dust runs around panicked. He looks for someone. I assume his mom. I feel his fear. He cries. His tears become mine.
Another picture from a refugee camp. A girl holds a baby in her arms. She is not a girl anymore. She is a mother now.
Daily news from Europe. Women, men, children crawl under barbed wire fence to across borders. Soldiers beat them with batons. I feel the pain.
Then I read hate comments. No I won’t re-write them here. They are full of hate. I see Facebook profiles of people I wish they did not exist. They breath the same air like I do. I feel sick.
News. Germany. A building is set on fire, which was planned to be a refugee shelter. Nobody gets arrested.
More news. Alone from Syria 2.8 Million people have to leave their home. The world faces one of biggest refugee (humanity) crisis in the world history. More people drown to death. More people are in need. More hate demonstrations. More hate comments. I doubt the humanity.
Hope & Share
August 2015. Looks like people start to realize that it is not acceptable. Well known public faces start reacting. Anja Reschke, a journalist from a public broadcaster calls for reaction, not to ignore xenophobic actions anymore. She says “Stand up against it and open your mouth. Take a stance, publicly name and shame them.” I feel hopeful.
Til Schweiger, a famous Germany actor founds an organisation to help refugees and buys a building to give them a shelter. He tells his Facebook fans to “fuck off” if they write racist comments. He gets so angry in a talk show that he even tells an opportunist not-doing-anything-but-talking politician from the ruling government to shut up. I feel his anger.
Then suddenly I see a friend joining a recently founded Facebook page called “Refugees Welcome – Karoviertel“. Refugees come to our neighbourhood. We help. Of course we do. The page gets over 10k like within 2 weeks. Within couple of hours in a small community gathering people make plans how to help. Everyone helps. Clothes, shoes, toys, blankets, whatever is needed, we take care of it. We share what we have. Time, money, whatever one has to offer.
The neighbours organise a welcoming fest with music, food and drinks. Of course I go too. I want our new neighbours to feel comfortable and welcomed. I see smiles on faces of children, women and men who suffered a lot. Nobody deserves such a pain caused by others. I see children smiling and playing. I wish they can forget about the war at least for a minute. I’m speechless. I feel the pain, the hope, the fear, the anger at the same time. I feel too weak to talk to them. I shame myself for not being strong enough to tell them,
“Welcome to the neighbourhood, here you are safe now.”
A wonderful video by Lars Marnette
More and more statements against racism follow. From actors, entertainers, musicians, journalists and yes now even politicians. My news feed is now full of news about people helping people. From people who don’t shut up anymore. From people who don’t want to listen to racist idiots, from people who stand up against racism. From people who feel richer when they help.
I feel the joy inside me for being so lucky to live in Hamburg. Hamburg you can be proud of your beautiful people and of your neighbourhoods such as Karoviertel.
You can help too
There are hundreds of options how you can help too. Inform yourself in internet, by the authorities, by help organisations. You can donate money to organisations of your trust. Here are some examples (some of them may be not available in English):
Refugees Welcome – Karoviertel: These beautiful people organised in a very short time one of the biggest community of people who want to help in Hamburg. A huge trade fair hall was filled of donations in only couple of days. They also collect money with which they buy underwear and socks as these items can not be collected through cloth donations.
Blogger für Flüchtlinge (Bloggers for Refugees) : It is a group of German bloggers gathering donation for refugees. They collect money also to buy water, food, clothes, etc. for refugees who arrive in the camps. You can donate here.
Or you can choose one of the international help organisations:
- UNICEF – Children of Syria
- OXFAM – SYRIA CRISIS APPEAL
- World Vision provides aid to refugees and host communities in Lebanon and Jordan.
It doesn’t matter whatever way you choose to help. Even one single smile helps. Sharing makes happy indeed.
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