Germany: initiatives for the refugees

From providing for the basic needs to a “counter attack” for peace, the opening of homes to refugee families. (Extra)ordinary stories of the warm reception of refugees.

1443023160994Germany has repeatedly made it in the headlines due to its controversial policies regarding refugees, that stirred up a reaction of the people in welcoming the many migrants who have arrived. Also the Focolare Movement in Germany has been working for many years now for the integration of immigrants into the social context, and intensifying its welcoming initiatives in this period.

Starting from the most basic needs – such as the collection of food, clothing, furniture and other basic items, German lessons and looking for medical or legal aid – to that of a man in Aschaffenburg, define “a counter attack.” In some cities there were also some violent episodes against the refugees and those who were helping them, but there was the firm decision to respond by giving a counter-testimonial, a message which came through forcefully. The Focolare of Dresda organized in this perspective, a soiree on the theme, “Love your neighbour as yourself.” One of the organizers said “we see how many live in anxiety or even fear: the soiree was very useful, and encouraged many people to undertake actions together.” In addition to this, there was also a social media campaign, #openyourborders and #signupforpeace, launched at international levels by the Youth for United World, together with the aim of giving a further boost to the initiatives of the United World Project.

But there are also concrete examples of daily life, like that of a couple from Munich, Bayern. The evening before their departure for a weekend excursion outside the city, they received a phone call asking for their willingness to host for the weekend, a young Syrian mother with three small children, while waiting to continue her journey to Karlsruhe. Though they hoped that the four would leave soon so they could at least spend a part of the weekend in the mountains, the couple – despite their internal conflict – accepted; but “the moment we took the hand of our little five-year-old princess, the ice was immediately broken,” they wrote. The weekend with the unexpected guests passed with the games played with the children, sharing their breakfast where “we renounced hotdogs out of respect for our Muslim guests who highly appreciated the yoghurt and flatbread we bought for them,” and a Syrian supper prepared together. And when we had to say goodbye on Sunday morning, “we all had tears in our eyes, and were happy and mutually grateful” – wrote the couple. What a gift the Divine director of this unexpected programme had in store for us!”

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