My phone rang and woke me up around 0:30. „you volunteered to host refugees, here is a mother with two kids and a cat. Cn you host?“ … „ok, when?“ … „now.“ 15 min later, they arrived with a volunteer. 🧵🧶 1/n
2/n I went down to welcome. We could communicate with google translate. The driver said he would like to help them carry up the luggage 🎒into the flat, the single bag they had was smaller than my laptop bag and the cat cage. I sensed he wanted to check inside.
3/n I showed him sleeping kids and id to ensure him. He smiled, gave me a phone number and left. The family have been on the road for 4 days. „How long can we stay?“ „let’s sleep and talk tomorrow“ a conversation in silence. The three and 15 y/o were nervous.
4/n I could not sleep. Now the war came home, I thought. Can we handle? The next morning, they woke up early and asked again „how long can we stay? I need health insurance for my son. He is sick. We need to be registered.” I sensed a mom in max. functioning mode.
5/n before my work started we rushed to get some urgent shopping to supply cat and kids. Then We gave her internet access and room to calm down after this journey. Once they realized being in security, they all slept, all day and all night.
6/n kids started to play, without being able to verbally communicate. The cat would sleep on husbands desk. Sometimes people asked: isn’t it difficult? No. At least I can give them something. A sense of comfort to people who were chased away from their home.
7/n “my friends also need a place to stay.” When I started the call to #berliners on tweeter, the response was overwhelming and all families were distributed (thank you all!). Whenever she sensed such generosity and empathy, she would break down and cry, without kids noticing.
8/n unintended, I started to build up a little network of helpers across entire Germany, who were taking them over, once I forwarded. “Can you host?” “Yes. When shall I pick up?” Sometimes we did not know what their names were. We would just bring them to the station and tickets
9/n The band of trust we all had was so strong. The people in need would travel across country with my phone number only, with a certainty, they are being helped. We were all very moved. And when the little girl, shadowing her mom every second, held my hand, I cried.
10/n yes, we were 8+cat in our flat. We both have busy jobs and three little kids. Wasn’t this overwhelming? No. I could do something in my own way. I cannot solve big problems. But giving them comfort, helped me to focus. To focus on what actually is happening and how we live.
11/n when the war started to destroy, on the other side, the band of empathy restored the faith. I am very grateful for all the silent helpers who acted unconditionally. I sense so much love for them. They demonstrated the true value.
Addendum-This tweet receives so much attention, I am very surprised. There are estimated ~10k refugees a day coming into berlin. Above, many stay in Poland, who incredibly help refugees. Berlin is only <10h car-ride from the Ukraine boarder. We see Ukraine cars everywhere in town
Many Berliner host refugees now and you hear more ukraine everywhere. Many volunteer otherwise, as helpers at the main station, as a driver to drive down the donated goods, as translator. Everywhere, supplies are collected for refugees. Public transport and railways are for free
I am overwhelmed as many wanted to send me money. I do not accept money and am not well informed about situations in other countries. But there are many possibilities, like Red Cross or unhcr. Here are two direct links to help
Schools and kindergarten are making special Programms to make the refugee kids to feel comfortable. Kids and parents are being prepared beforehand, to welcome those. Night trains are being prep so that refugees can sleep a bit at the station to continue their travel on next day.
I am incredibly grateful how many ppl I connected with this. A colleague, who drove hours to host a pregnant woman due in 4weeks + kid (!!). When a mom-daughter were at the main station, not knowing where to go, a colleague just hurried over, picked them up and took them home.
Check out by Swiss director Marc Wilkins who records conversations with people at the site of the invasion, people just like , "you and me" are affected by this catastrophe. And that we can help them.
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