Refugees welcome - some kind of a blog
Ich bin zu buchen mit meinen Texten und meinen Erfahrungen...
You can book me with my texts and my experiences...
In Thessaloniki many people are living in the streets. From 1 June thousands of recognized refugees across Greece and about 2000 in Thessaloniki are in danger of being evicted from their accommodation in state-sponsored structures and will lose their financial support.
Many organisations are still working on a low-level, so there is not enough support for them. We try to find ways to support the homeless refugees as well as the families who lost / will lose their houses.
We are already giving supplies (food, clothes, blankets, sleeping bags or hygiene products) that have been donated by Greek people or international private organisations. There are not many funds from European organisations, so we still need private donations. THANK YOU!
Inzwischen können wir auch wieder in die Straßen gehen, haben begonnen uns zu organisieren um Dinge an die Menschen zu verteilen. Zum Glück ist der Sommer gekommen, der verregnete Frühling und die Kälte sind gewichen.
Was wir nun mehr denn je benötigen sind die Mittel um helfen zu können. Von den Spendengeldern können wir nebenbei auch die lokalen Geschäfte unterstützen, indem wir bei ihnen einkaufen. Ein wichtiger Aspekt im Griechenland der ökonomischen Krise und inmitten einer Situation, in der ein Virus nicht nur die Gesundheit, sondern auch die Wirtschaft zerstört.
Thank you again and again Heimatstern e.V. to make it possible to have backpacks, food, shoes, sleeping bags, babymilk and -food, sanitary items in big numbers in the most uncomplicated way... Irgendwann errichten wir euch ein Denkmal mitten in Thessaloniki!
Since I moved to Thessaloniki 2 1/2 years ago, I got € 22.365,49 donations from friends and people in solidarity from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, France, Australia, Italy, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Spain, Romania.
That's amazing! That's solidarity!! Das ist großartig! Das ist Solidarität! Thank you! Danke! Ευχαριστώ! Ευχαριστούμε!
Zwar kann ich keine Spendenquittungen ausgeben, dafür kommt jeder Cent zuverlässig bei der Hilfe für geflüchtete und bedürftige Menschen an - jeder noch so kleine Betrag ist hilfreich. DANKE dafür!!
IBAN: DE14701500000903121812 / BIC: SSKMDEMM
Ελληνικός λογαριασμός: GR8602602060000100201430994 / BIC: ERBKGRAA
Balcony talks – about being illegal
“I could not come to the lesson, I had something to do. A friend who is in Athens called me and asked me to take care of some people. They arrived today from Turkey, they were walking 4 days from Evros to Thessaloniki. I went with them to eat something and showed them the station.”
“Take care of the station, police is there. Better they stay in the city center. And don’t go with them, go in front of them and they follow you, a bit farer away.”
“What do they want to do?”
“They want to take the train to Athens tonight.”
“But police is checking the trains!”
Balcony talks - about gender roles
The conversation started when I asked him who is cooking at home for the 4-person family. „My wife.“ I was laughing, because he is the one who knows how to cook and is the chef every Saturday for the 250 meals we are cooking for homeless people.
Well, actually the conversation started with another guy who asked me if the wives of the Syrian and Kurdish men who are here can cook on Saturdays. I am sick to ask him why not the men, so I kept silent, but I had this question in my mind when I came to the balcony.
“But I m helping. You know, we are the same.” He continued. And I know that it’s true, I see them together, I see him here and I am very glad about it.
“Last week my son said to my daughter: “bring me some water. You are the girl, I am the boy, you have to bring me.” And I told him that she is his sister and not his employee.”
“”Why does your wife not wear a hijab?”, people are asking me, and I say that I don’t want to tell her what to wear. But then they tell me in the Quran you can read that the men I higher than the women. But it says the wife is your sister, your mother, your friend. And I tell you something: The problem is not the hijab, the problem is here…” – and he tapped on his head. “Here is the problem.”
He knows that the problem is in their minds and that it everyone’s decision how to behave and how to treat each other.
I am glad to know people like him.
He tried to give me the 1 year old child while his wife joined the first time her English class. Of course I asked him to take care of his daughter. I gave him some toys and some books. He put the girl on the sofa, took his phone and did not stop staring at the screen until his wife came back. Then he gave her immediately the child back in her arms.
I was so sad. For the woman. For the child.
Children need inputs. Children need education. Children need mothers AND father who care. Also on the flee. Maybe even more then.
Police is arresting refugees and lock them in cells with the promise of papers. Not yet been seen some days later. Still in cells? Pushed-back to Turkey?
Police is active around the places where groups distribute food on a daily basis. Even though they did not come again to the distribution point, they are around where they know that people are gathering. Refugees are afraid to go there, so they even stay without food.
Refugees hiding somewhere in the streets, volunteers instead of the government supporting them, police arresting. That's the time we are living in.
Since five years: (male) refugees and me:
„You have children?“
„O, sorry.“ / „Why?“ / „You still can have, Insallah.“
I learned not to reply anymore to save my energy.
He spoke a bit Greek. That they are living in the camp without a tent, I understood. And that they had an apartment before the new law was implemented. Could find a place in the camp for a minimum of protection instead of living in the streets. Five children, one of them with them yesterday. Not the youngest, but the second young, always good for compassion if you come somewhere to ask for food, pampers and baby milk.
We don‘t need these „tricks“. We know them anyhow. We give what we have and we cannot give what we don‘t have.
He asked me to come a bit beside to tell me again „No money, no house, nothing“. „I know“, I replied. „So difficult, no money, no food.“, he repeated.
Only one story from those we hear every day. No new story. But the story of his life. And of the other family members. Not replacable. Not repeatable. One life. Destroyed.
I left for the other room in order to bring the pampers. „Please“, he came behind me, „paper...“. It took a while then I understood that he was asking for wet wipes. I told him the word in Greek and he tried to remember it.
He just turned 7. His family fled Kurdistan some years ago. His twin is in another country with a relative. He is here with his parents and his 4 year old sister. He is a lovely guy, the parents really care to educate the children with all the needed love. He is going to school since a year. He learned Greek. Because the family had to move in another place, he also had to change school. Yesterday all the children got their certificate, only he did not get it, because he started in the new school in another class than he started last September in the first school.
When his father told me yesterday how sad he has been, I took immediately a paper and made him a certificate. He put it on the wall.
Dear teachers. It is so easy to make a boy happy!
I am even too tired to write again something about the World Refugee Day.
Picture: from a 5 year old girl in Thessaloniki: "This is a dog. And this is my sister [she is living with her uncle in Germany since 2 years], this is my father, and this is the world."
Asylum office reflections #1
Is it because I am German why it has a certain connotation to hear the security shout “Men in this line, women and children in this line”? Is it because I read too many books about the selection at the ramps where 6 million women, men and children arrived and did not see each other again?
OK, these families met again to enter the gate to the Asylum office. And they also came back again. But still. It leaves a bad feeling to see scared people who get separated from their husbands, wives, children and fathers.
Asylum office reflections #2
All these young mothers. All these mothers. All these children. All these pregnant women. I unconsciously start to ask myself: born at home? In a warzone? On the flee? In a camp? In the streets? In a Turkish or a Greek hospital?
I did not give birth, but I guess it is not easy to be pregnant and to get a baby in a foreign country, even though you manage it to be in a hospital. Somewhere where you don’t know anyone, you don’t speak the language and you don’t know your future.
At the Asylum office the women at least have something to do while th
ey are waiting: They have to take care of the children, have to push the pram, have to give them water, milk, something to eat.
I am sometimes sad to see the young girls with already two or three children, but then I have to call myself to order, because I don’t know enough about their life, their values, their needs.
Asylum office reflections #3
The girl beside her mother. The boy beside his father. The girl pushing the pram, the boy doing some karate kicks.
I guess during these times the parents are more role models for the children then in times of peace in a family home. The boys see the men in the queue, smoking, scratch in the crotch, speaking loud with the other men and showing that they still have something under control. The girls stand beside the prams, being with the mothers, showing the one nice shirt they have, the new shoes and the beautiful made hair.
Role models. Can be wonderful. Can be difficult.
Asylum office reflections #4
I don’t speak Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, Dari, Pashto, Kurdish, no African language, no Kurmanji, Punjabi.
But I understood that many people are looking forward to get their passports to “go Germany”.
And I know that they will be disappointed. And I know it will be dangerous for the society to have many people who will not learn the language, will not find jobs and will not be included in the society.
The first obtacle is though the Greek Asylum Office that asks the asylum seekers to write an email to book an appointment. The disappointment starts here, in front of the fence after waiting for hours in a queue.
Asylum office reflections #5
The numbers of Covid-19 infections are once more arising these weeks after the lockdown. The Asylum office doesn’t accept people without facemask. Some guys could not even stand in the line because they did not have masks.
I think it makes sense in terms of safety.
Unfortunately the same guys were sitting close to each other in front of the Asylum Office and close to many other people.
Unfortunately people left the Office and gave their masks to other people.
Unfortunately everyone stands in the queue very close to the next.
Social distancing is not possible for asylum seekers. Not in any camp neither in the streets.
Asylum office reflections #6
Sitting in the sun for 4 hours I was thinking today how human beings are able to adapt to situations, How normal it is for the children to sit in the morning at 6 in a bus to the Asylum Office, to wait there, to play in the mud, to run between the mother in the one and the father in the other line. How normal it is for them to hear the security shout, to fear them, but to get used to it.
I have seen so many children in 3 different camps in Munich and Thessaloniki. I studied trauma therapy to understand them better. I see them and my heart is bleeding. Lost childhood.
Thousands of refugees in the streets. Women, men, children - evicted from their houses. Now without support, without hope in a country in an economic crisis, in a pandemic.
With police controls and illegal push-backs every day and night.
"I can't breathe"
I guess, for many of them this will be the main feeling these days.
Before dawn police moved in to the Camp to "evacuate" the 8500 people from Idomeni camp and a "humanitarian disaster", how they said.
Actually they evicted the camp and brought people in other camps.
Today, 4 years later, Europe forgot that there are still refugees in Greece. It is so easy to evict camps, to close borders... as long as you cannot see the impact on human beings.
We saw it. And we still see it.
4 years later. 50.000 refugees (so the official numbers) in Greece. Illegal "pushbacks" on land, at sea. Inhumane accommodation. A lack of support.
This is the "humanitarian desaster" what they said they wanted to prevent 4 years ago in Idomeni.
I remember that day very well. It was one of my last days of my first time in Thessaloniki. And I cannot believe that we are still looking for houses, clothes, food and other basic items for so many human beings looking for a future.
Picture: Idomeni Camp 20.05.2016
Wer erfahren möchte, wie die Situation auf der Insel Lesvos ist... hier endlich ein wirklich gut gemachter Film mit Interviewpartner*innen die so reden wie ich es hier höre und wie ich es auch beantworten würde. Zu sehen in der ARD Mediathek: "Scheiß auf Moral!"
All die Orte an denen wir in Lesvos waren, all die Organisationen mit denen wir arbeiten... Und grundsätzlich eine wirklich fundierte Beschreibung der Situation in der wir uns befinden...
Es gibt sie nicht die so genannte "Flüchtlingskrise". Krisen werden angegangen und sind lösbar. Das hier ist ein unhaltbarer Zustand, den Europa ignoriert und billigend in Kauf nimmt.
Mit müden und wütenden Grüßen aus Griechenland.
Yesterday I was so tired from all the work all the years. And first of all from so many people who say that they want to help, but are waiting that other people tell them what to do.
In the evening I was sending a message to a friend with whom I was discussing that topic a few days ago.
She answered: “I was thinking today: „If not me, who then? If not us, who else?” – And that gives me the energy to continue.”
I know what she means and also that we cannot save everyone, but that we can do what is possible for us. For me.
Maybe I just have the wish to see more people in responsibility.
Maybe I am only tired after 5 years.
Maybe I only got tired of organising. Organising actions and other people.
But she is right: “Maybe it helps to have all the people in your mind whom we could help and how they would be without our help.”
This can be a trap, but sometimes it can be also helpful.
The last months have been very difficult… For everyone in the world. For everyone in Europe. For everyone in Greece.
For us it was so difficult that we could not do so much. We created a hashtag #ΔενΜενουμεΑδρανεις, translated with “We will not stay sluggish” - and tried not to behave sluggish. A challenge when you stay day and night in your house.
It really helped us to get in that time 3 pallets full of food stuff, pampers, sleeping bags, T-shirts etc. from the wonderful organization Heimatstern in Munich.
We could give families in needs food. At least this, because we could not go to the market where we usually collect the leftover fruits and vegetables. We could not cook and distribute the cooked food. We could give some families clothes. At least.
Next week we want to start again with the market and with the cooking at the weekends. We will need these 700 kg of rice, lentils, pasta, tomato sauce, oil etc. that we got today.
I am so thankful for this help we got the last difficult months and I cannot describe how much I am glad to live in solidarity with so many people here and wherever. This is how we can make a difference.
I remember a project meeting in Rome where the organisers brought us to an “illegal” camp, running by volunteers. So much “hey bro” in between the volunteers and the refugees. So much exhibited fraternity. I remember that we spent there 4 hours and the organisers asked us “to mix with the refugees, built relationships”. Remember that our group refused this way of getting in touch with people who don’t want to be in tents on a parking. I remember my colleague saying: “Look at the volunteers. They give me the feeling that only to work as a volunteer gives you a good feeling and makes you happy.”
Yesterday I saw this again after a long time, because I am not anymore in touch with these kind of volunteers, volunteering full-time and finding their raison d’être in helping other people. I felt again that exhibited brotherhood that deep inside me lefts a nasty feeling.
I am also giving my time and skills for non-payed projects. I have deep inside me the feeling that I want to be in solidarity with these people, deep inside me I am an activist who wants to make a small part of the world a little bit better. I guess I can never feel that happiness that these volunteers want us to see.
I would be happy if this would stop. I would be happy not anymore to organize donations, money, not anymore to assort clothes, to carry supplies.
Stay at home... still the message these days. From the Greek government (the one praised by european media as a „role model“ when dealing with the new virus), the one who passed the law that everyone who got asylum or residence will not have the right to stay in a supported house or to get financial support. Men, women, children cannot stay at home, because they don‘t have one anymore. Men and women cannot find a job, because everything is still closed and no one knows what will re-open again. They cannot stay at home. And we don‘t know solutions and how to support them.
Do social distancing... still the message these days. The Greek government (praised now as „conservative, but progressive“) is rejecting asylum applications in this time of uncertainity and lockdown. People who obvisiously are in danger in their home countries don‘t get asylum. Apparently, the government uses the time to get rid of as much as possible people. They try to distance people from us who are already a part of our community. And we don‘t know solutions and how to save them.
Be positive... still the message these days. After some bad news the last days it is difficult.
International newspapers are writing about it, German TV shows it. People are putting articles and clips on their facebook wall with the text “proud to be Greek”.
Yes, the decision of an early lockdown has been a good idea. I remember that we confessed one another that we have been really afraid of the virus, “when even the Greek government reacts”. Yes, the decision was a good idea in a country without a functioning health care system.
But why does it work?
Not because of the fascist Prime Minister, now called “conservative but also an innovator”, what hides his right-wing ideology.
Because of the people who take it seriously. Who care for each other.
But what is working?
The numbers of infections and deaths are low. Well, there are no tests in Greece. 61.000 for a population of 10 million. I mean, it’s ridiculous. And: people tested positive from a Roma community as well as from refugee camps have not been included in the statistics. That doesn’t show the real numbers, but clear racism.
Refugees are suffering in the streets and in camps due to of the lack of help and support. Many decisions are made currently, asylum applications are rejected, the official bodies are closed, objections and getting legal aid are more difficult.
People don’t know how to survive. We will see how many shops will reopen after the lockdown. This country – contrary to popular opinion abroad - did not overcome the financial crisis.
Yes, the decision of an early lockdown has been a good idea. But I wish people who see and read the articles about “Greece as a role model” would look a bit further.
I love a lot in this country which is my home now. But I know it’s not the government who helps through this pandemic. It’s the people who support each other.
Maybe they could write “Proud to be a human being”
Photo credits: Verena Stürtzer / Munich
Now we complain that we feel unsecure. That we don’t know how to structure our days. People say they feel other-directed. That they have a lot of work, but they cannot concentrate neither do have the energy to do what they have to do. They say it wouldn’t be that bad if they would know when this would end…
Reminds you of something?
Asylum seekers are waiting for months and years, and they never know when and how it ends. They are living in the most unsecure situation, dependent from others. And many of them many times cannot focus on something, because the whole situation makes them feel so bad and makes them inactive.
Please remember that.
When it will be over.
Please help us to continue to help!
Since 21.03.20 we have to send an sms or to have a paper with us that we fill out every time we go to a doctor, the supermarket, a bank, to give help, or to go out with a pet. Additional we have to carry an ID with us. There are fines if we don't have.
It's a clever move from the right-wing government to get rid of the refugees who live in the streets and who don't have papers or one of the above-mentioned reasons to be in the streets.
We are trying to figure out how to support the refugees in our city. We have ideas, we don't have many capacities to go out, we have the will, and we still have some supplies.
But not as much as we need.
That's why we still and again depend on your help. Please share this crowdfunding, we will need every cent.
Please share this page. Every cent counts. Thank you!
Keyword crowdfunding "EMERGENCY"
„I heard, things are not that bad in Greece”, a friend wrote me.
Things ARE bad. As bad as Central Europeans cannot imagine.
People in closed camps, refugees in the streets without any support.
Bad weather since days (and the forecast says it will not get better the next days).
Restrictions why you can leave your home for a short time.
So many jobs and income lost, so many shops on the edge, a nightmare in a country in an economic crisis.
The hospitals have been already before the new virus overwhelmed and worked with a lack of medications, bed linen, toilet paper. Due to the crisis so many doctors and staff have been fired the last years, or are not been paid for months. Directors of hospitals write that they don’t have masks, gloves and the essential for their work.
“Things are bad, but I am glad to be here in this situation”, I replied.
Solidarity is not just a word in Greece. It is not the first difficult situation with which the country has to cope with. We are creative. We are flexible. We will go also through this.
We are deeply grateful for a donation of 1.000 € which will enable us to continue to help others. The organization Heimatstern e.V., based in Munich / Germany has been assisting us for almost 3 years by sending us supplies for our solidarity activities at Oikopolis as well as the refugee day center Alkyone.
However, we have been running out of money over the last few months.
As our circumstances have changed, we can no longer let our seminar room for groups and so we do not have any income anymore. Oikopolis is a social space which is the base for a wide range of activities, a place for people to come together, to rest and to create new ideas on how to live better together. It is the place with a kitchen that we use to cook solidarity meals, and a place where people meet and from which we can support families in need. It’s the place where we always try to have supplies of essentials such as clothing, food, baby milk, sleeping bags, medication. which can be accessed in times of emergency. In addition we always try to find the time, the dignity and the love to treat our human beings with the dignity they deserve.
Today, Greece is celebrating the Greek Independence Day.
We are celebrating solidarity!
Wir sind zutiefst dankbar für die Spende von 1.000 € die uns hilft weiterhin zu helfen. Der Verein Heimatstern e.V. aus München hilft uns bereits seit fast 3 Jahren. Sie haben uns immer wieder Hilfe für unsere Solidaritätsaktionen bei Oikopolis geschickt, sowie Kleidung, Lebensmittel, Babymilch etc. für das Tageszentrum Alkyone.
Wir hatten bereits in den vergangenen Monaten kaum noch Geld.
Mit der neuen Situation, in der wir unseren Seminarraum nicht mehr an Gruppen vermieten können, haben wir überhaupt kein Einkommen mehr und können unsere Miete nicht mehr zahlen.
Die Räume von Oikopolis sind die Basis für jede unsere Aktivitäten, es ist ein Platz um zusammen zu kommen, um sich zu erholen und um Ideen zu sammeln wie wir auf eine bessere Art zusammenleben können. Es ist der Ort wo die Küche ist, in der wir unsere Solidaritätsmahlzeiten für Menschen auf der Flucht und benachteiligte Menschen kochen. Wo sich Menschen treffen und von wo aus wir Familien unterstützen. Es ist der Ort, wo wir immer etwas für Notfälle zu haben: Kleidung, Lebensmittel, Babymilch, Schlafsäcke, Medikamente. Und wo wir immer versuchen die Zeit zu haben, die Würde und die Liebe die Menschen verdienen.
Heute feiert Griechenland den Unabhängigkeitstag.
Wir feiern Solidarität!
Also this is happening: A friend from Germany, working in an institution of the Protestant church in Frankfurt asked me to have a talk about the situation of refugees in Thessaloniki.
She is collecting the information to share them with people in Germany. To inform them – in times when there is less than ever a public interest in refugees in Greece.
She listened, she noted, she asked for he crowdfunding-link.
We need money.
And we need interest and solidarity.
Maybe even more in times when we can only do a few things.
Before... before every life how we knew it before stopped, we saw each other almost every day. Sometimes in the morning before work, on the weekends for a late breakfast, at noon for a quick lunch or in the afternoons and evenings between meetings, for eating together or just to hang around. We went with the bikes somewhere, we cooked, we went to activities together, the two of us and together with other people.
Now I am at home. Alone. Behind that door that keeps me away from spreading the virus.
But we managed it to see each other today. He rang the bike bell in the street, I rang it from my balcony.
When he left, I almost cried.
This will pass. We will leave our houses again.
And I know since a few minutes more than before that we will not let him get deported! We will not have our lives here without him!
German TV on twitter: "Europe is thinking about sealing itself off."
F*** you!!! Europe sealed itself off already and pays Turkey and libyan criminals to keep that status quo. But ok, now it's not about fortress Europe for people who are fleeing their homes for several reasons. Now we speak about business-(wo)men and it's a headline.
Picture: Lesvos, Sykamia beside the mountain of life-jackets, 2018
You, who do complain now that you cannot move freely wherever you want.
You, who are moaning that others control your life.
You, who insult the teachers and the government that your children cannot go to school.
You, who are inconsolable because the children‘s party or your holiday trip is cancelled.
You, who got blameless in that situation, like all of us.
You, who try to continue a most normal life. For you, for your children.
You - try to imagine how people feel who have to flee their homes.
Picture from Moria Camp, 2018, the camp in which 25000 men, women, minors, children and babies have to stay and where today again a huge fire broke out.
They considered themselves to be safe. They looked down on the so called „third world“. They said „But I did this myself because I am so diligent and great.“ They have been so proud for the work they did, the money they earned, the houses they built, the cars they bought. And even if someone got sick, everyone still made him/her feel that it was her/his own fault to suffer from cancer or whatever (can‘t count how often I have been asked why my husband did not have a health check and how often I replied that a melanoma at the meninges could not have been found in one thousand checks and can‘t count how often I felt still guilty that we never did these health checks).
Now we are in a situation where no one is guilty, a virus just spreads however and wherever it wants. Now we are in a situation were the so called „first world“ is no exception and we learn that we also can come in an emergency situation. Now we are at random in a place in which we feel unsecure.
...like people who are at random born in Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, Pakistan, in places with a long history of troubles, a sudden war or in places where people are so poor that the only chance of survival is to go somewhere else.
Of course, when I see the empty shelfs in Germany I understand that they still have the money to help themselves. When I see the closed shops in Greece, know that no one who has to stay away from his work will be payed, I understand that some more people will run out of money the next weeks. I still see the difference between a rich and a poor country and can see how this will have an impact.
They considered themselves to be safe. Some safety you can buy. But not really. I really hope we will understand that we are different but all the same. In weakness, but also in strength. I really hope solidarity will be considered one day as the only way to live together.
„How is your wife?“ I asked while filling the food we cooked for his family in containers. „Wife good. But baby...“ and he made a „crazy“ sign on his head. „It‘s from Moria, you know, Lesvos.“
I know. And I understood. He, his (pregnant) wife and the three children under 4 have arrived from Afghanistan via Turkey with a boat in Lesvos. This is already more than children should experience in their live. Then they stayed in Moria camp. Nothing to add. Then they came via Athens to Thessaloniki and stayed in a house. With the new law (getting residence or asylum means you lose your benefits) they had to leave their apartment and found themselves four days and nights in the streets before small organisations like us started to support them with a hotel room and meals.
He tried to find us one hour long. We are just down the street from his hotel. „I have so much in my head, I could not concentrate“ was what I understood when he explained his delay and why we had eventually to pick him up at the hotel.
Maybe his wife is ok, maybe their bodies are ok. But of course their souls are suffering. And without treatment they will suffer forever.
„What will they ask me at the interview?“, he asked. And I couldn‘t answer. „What will happen with my papers I have here when I have to go tomorrow to Ioannina?“, he asked, translated by our kurdish friend. One friend is facing his second interview, the other has to move tomorrow in another house and will - as the new law says - not have anymore his cashCard. He doesn‘t know in which floor, how many rooms, where excactly he, his wife and his children will move. The other, a man with amputated toes, alone from Syria here, will go tomorrow morning to a town, 3 hours away from Thessaloniki. An organisation found a place for him to stay. But where will he eat? We are trying to find solidarity groups there to support him, as we did the last weeks by organising cooked food for him every day. He got his today’s meals while the kurdish friend and me were cooking. For an afghan familiy, the woman pregnant, three children under 4. They lived four days and nights in the streets. Now an organisation will pay the hotel for them, but they need to eat. So we cooked. And will do it again tomorrow.
Let‘s see which questions and which uncertainities we will face tomorrow.
We are living in a world where refugees cannot apply for asylum. Where refugees have to stay in overcrowded camps, ships and busses, at borders or in the streets. We are living in a world where not many people are interested in that fact and in that lack of humanity and dignity. We are living in a world where many people only care about themselves. "One world. One love" sounds pathetic. But I believe in that. And we try.
Wir leben in einer Welt in der Geflüchtete kein Asyl beantragen können. In der Geflüchtete in überfüllten Camps, Schiffen und Bussen, an den Grenzen oder auf den Straßen leben müssen. Wir leben in einer Welr, in der nicht viele Menschen an diesem Umstand interessiert sind, genauso wenig wie im Mangel an Menschlichkeit und Würde. Wir leben in einer Welt in der viele Menschen nur an sich selbst denken. "Eien Welt. Eine Liebe" klingt pathetisch. Aber ich glaube daran. Und wir versuchen es.
These days you cannot avoid to speak with people about what is happening in our country. Not if you go for a coffee with friends, not if you meet people in the street, even not if you go at a concert. And very quickly you get also opinions from people you never met before.
“You know, I think I cannot do anything. We cannot take everyone. I have my own life, I have three children, I cannot care for every problem in the world. And I think if we care for every problem in the world and we see only the difficult things, we lose our joy in life.” I replied that from my experience I never lost joy in my life in caring also for others, but he did not believe me. “I think there are more bad people in the world than good, so - what can you do?”
Yes. “The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.” (Elie Wiesel)
I personally believe that there are more people who are arguing for the good. And unfortunately there are many many people who are indifferent, who are playing into the hands of the ones who doesn’t want the good for the world and for their neighbours.
…and who teach their children that to do nothing makes your life better.
It is not only a slogan we said on demonstrations: Borders kill!
Actually not the borders themselves but human beings are killing other human beings. Payed by governments. Here supported by a European Union who decided to close their eyes and to let it go.
Two people in one week have been already killed in the Evros region. We cannot do very much. We can scream and shout and spray out anger and our sadness. We don't want to think what will happen next. We don't want to imagine...
I have been asked today again if I can organise babymilk in large numbers.
I don't know if I can. I will try.
Fortunately I have donations people send me the last week. I will try to organise it with my bike and with a lot of pharmacies and supermarkets.
Thinking about all the women and all the babies and small children.
What a difficult start in a little life.
What an exhausting life for the women.
What a situation in which we have to take care since years for things that a government should care for.
Language changes the thinking:
These are not „migrants“. These are refugees who are fleeing from war and from unbearable situations.
I am a migrant. I could pack my bags, could say goodbye to my friends, could organise my life, could decide where I want to live.
People who arrive from Turkey are refugees. Seeking for protection, seeking for asylum.
It is simply wrong to refuse them even the appication of asylum!
I appeal to the empathy of people who say „we have to protect our borders“, of people who travel now to the islands and to the Evros border to „support the nationalist friends“: I could be a refugee. You could be a refugee.
The first message I got this morning from a friend was „15.000“.
„What?“ I replied.
But then I already saw the news: „Number of refugees in Evros has reached now 15.000.“
Some of these people are trapped there since almost two days without support.
Today we have to think what we will do, how we will handle the situation when these people are crossing or staying in Thessaloniki.
Like always there will be no help by the state.
We are so tired. And so angry. And we are full of sadness that human beings have to pay for politics. Nothing new. But sad.
We will meet in a few hours to plan some worst case scenarios.
Καλώς ήρθατε. Fortress Europe.
I am so angry about everything that is happening these days in Greece. So angry about a far right government.
But maybe I am more angry about Europe, just saying „We have Dublin III“, and letting us alone beside Turkey with whom THEY made a bloody deal.
picture: Anadolu Agency via Getty images
😡 I am saying this since 1990 and I mean it and I know it from my experience: NO ONE LEAVES HIS/HER HOME WITHOUT A REASON. Refugees are not criminals, they have to flee their home.
Thank you for everyone who supports us!!
We are still working on the campaign, on Umers future, still thankful for every sharing of the petition
„We need to tell the people what is happening here. Did you read about the refugee woman who gave birth yesterday in the street and a police man who was there cutted then the umbilical cord with his knife... I mean, this is happening somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Africa, but really, in Greece, in Europe?“
We were discussing the textes for a crowdfunding campaign.
It needs so much time and energy to fight for the framework that we can do our work.
We are forgotten. The refugees in Greece are forgotten. Maybe sometimes Europe hears about Moria camp, but Thessaloniki is not on the screen. Donations don‘t reach us anymore.
We continue. What else. The people are here. And we are here.
What I love to do when I am helping out in the Refugee Day Center is to make the people 2 good minutes. Last week we had a lot of nice people and I succeeded:
Many children played with me.
A man laughed, gave me a hug and said (I guess, my arabic, you know...) „God bless you“ after I tried to make the procedure with the signature for the shower and the washing machine a bit more funny.
A man wanted to give me his orange he had from the lunch because he was thankful that we washed his clothes.
A guy who washed with his clothes also his papers did not look that sad anymore when I tried to joke that he could say with the ball of wet paper „here my papers, ah, you cannot read my name?“
The staff who tried to find with me one can of tuna that has been announced in a list of donations a group o students brought us (and never has been found!) had a bit of fun in the whole mess in which they are working.
Many children laughed with me.
What I love to do is to make the people some good minutes. But it’s not only about laughing and joking. In three languages I hear stories, meet human beings with dreams and hope, and I feel sad for the whole situation, angry and helpless.
Greece wants to deport Umer, a refugee who has become a symbol of solidarity
We know that there are many people in the same situation.
We know that there are many people who are in worse situations.
We see these people, we know these people, we saw them in the camps on the Greek mainland and on the islands. We see them every day in the streets of Thessaloniki and in our organisations.
We know that there are people in other European countries who already speak the local language fluently, who are integrated and who are nonetheless deported to face an insecure future.
Not many people want to stay in Greece, but they are forced to, due to the Dublin III law. We are happy whenever one of them decides to learn the language, to find work and to be a part of Greek society despite the differences and difficulties. Like Umer, who lives and works with us since two years.
We want to support people from anywhere who want to be a part of a solidarity movement that we need in a country in an economic crisis.
We demand from the Greek government political asylum for Umer Sufyan.
And we ask you kindly to disseminate and promote our campaign in your country, especially the avaaz petition https://bit.ly/2v5uU34.
Refugees stranded in Greece are a European issue.
When I am speaking about Umer, I say “he is family for me, and that’s what he is.
I remember at the beginning when Oikopolis was full of people, he was the one with whom I did not speak that much, and actually I don’t know when everything changed.
Luckily it changed because I wouldn’t know how to live my daily life without him.
To meet for some minutes or for hours. To go for a bike ride. To go “to Pakistan” how I call it if we go to a Pakistan restaurant and I don’t have to do nothing at all, just to wait until the delicious food is coming. To text him when I am sick and to ask him to bring me some food after work. To bring him fruits, juice and toys when he is sick. To have a call from him always when I am in a bad mood and to feel better afterwards. To meet early in the morning before work for a coffee and laugh how wrinkled our faces look like. To speak about easy things and difficulties. About the past and the future.
The other day he said to me “Oh, you never told me that.” And I replied “But it would be boring if we would know already everything about each other. We still have time together.”
That’s what I believe. He will go nowhere, as long as he doesn’t want to leave Thessaloniki!
These days we are preparing a campaign for our pakistan friend. His application for asylum has been denied and we don't know what will happen next.
While we are working on that, beside all the other things we are doing, I am so sick and tired of opinions people tell me when we are talking about refugees in Greece.
Just do something. Just help them with time, money, love.
I am thankful to live and work with people who do not only talk and complain, but who act.
"It makes me angry when I listen to you this morning. Angry, because I am asking myself "Why don't we know about that?". The media doesn't tell us, they show soccer and the Beethoven jubilee, but not about refugees in Greece."
...a 15 year old girl in the school I was invited last week to speak about the situation of refugees in Greece.
I understood her. I am also angry. And I am every time thankful if only one person in Europe is listening!
There was a place in the passageway where I am living. People used to sleep there. No wind, no rain. In Summer we put my mattress there, because we thought someone can take it. The people who slept there could use it. Even when the cleaning woman who is cleaning with thousands of liters of water put some extra water on it. Still it has been warmer than somewhere outside in the streets. And safe. No police ever got it. Yesterday they put a gate, a fence. To protect what exactly? The empty storages behind it. Lucky everyone who has a roof over their head.
Thank you Annabella and Helene for your monthly donation since I moved to Thessaloniki.
Thank you Siggi for donating half of your fee.
Thank you Schule für freie Entfaltung Tempelhof for your invitation and the time to listen yesterday.
Thank you everyone who donates money. We need this for our work. More than ever.
Like the last 2 winters I got a sinusitis from the cold nights in my unheated apartment. Like the last winters I remember the children in the camp, all of them being sick. I am thinking of the people on the street. At least I can turn the heater on when I wake up. They can‘t.
That‘s solidarity: people had a party on New Year‘s Eve and had many and wonderful leftovers. They brought them and we went with the bikes to distribute them to people who are living on the street.
That‘s the reality: people have to hide, because the police is evicting the places where they are spending the nights to survive the next day. We went to many hidden places, but couldn‘t find during the day so many people.
That‘s still sad: people shouldn‘t live in places around the rubbish. Every single person deserves dignity and humanity.
Solidarity with the Sea-Watch 3 captain from Thessaloniki.
...thankful for the one who had the idea and all the ones who joined us to make it reality...
What is "free"?
If you are not in prison, not anymore in house arrest?
What about that: your ship is still confiscated, you and your colleagues are still accused and all of you are facing financial penalty and prison.
What about: every day human beeings are dying in the Mediterrean Sea... what about: beeing humane is still a crime in Europe...
What is "free"...
Textes and pictures - Thessaloniki 11/2017 - 03/2018
Texte und Bilder - Thessaloniki 08/2017 - 11/2017
Texte und Bilder - Thessaloniki/ Munich 04/2017 - 07/2017
Texte und Bilder - Thessaloniki 12/2016 - 04/2017