For a lot of Berliners, the site of the abandoned Tempelhof Airport represents a vast and wild space; a place of horizon, exploration and freedom. But for almost 2000 newcomer Berliners, Tempelhof means “refugee camp”, “schlafplatz” or “hell”. These are they names they use to refer to the former airport’s halls and hangars that have become their temporary home.
The temporary situation has now lasted more than a year, with new residents moving in and vague perspectives on any hope of change. Life in the cold hangars has become the abnormal but accepted reality. No daylight, no privacy, extensive surveillance, food served on plastic plates, impatient social workers, the feeling of disorientation in bureaucratic procedures.
Even having one’s asylum application accepted and receiving residency brings little change. The same small squares metres shared with two other families, the same huge hall full of tiny pseudo-houses - container cubes without roofs. Contact with the outside world is limited by high security, a language barrier and strict meal times. Without very little personal cash, people are invisibly chained to the space in order to avoid hunger but have no possibility to use a kitchen to cook their own food.
To bring some light, stability and connection to these people, GSBTB organizes a weekly Open Art Shelter for Women and Children. It’s a safe and creative space for the free expression of emotions and thoughts, intercultural dialogue and trauma healing. It’s a broad and dynamic concept filled with:
- arts, crafts and creativity of all sorts
- integrated psychotherapy with individual support
- sewing and handicraft with the possibility for financial empowerment through selling the products
- city and nature excursions for individuals and families
- enabling contact with local culture through visits to theaters, museums and cinemas
- childcare to allow women some time for themselves
- women-only movie nights, dance parties and pampering hair and make-up events
- mural projects that serve to send a political message and make the utterly depressing surroundings a little bit brighter
- letter exchanges between refugee kids, women and volunteers, fostering pen-friendships
- creative language exchange (we teach each other German, English, Farsi, Arabic and Russian by singing, drawing, laughing and doing calligraphy)
The project and community is developed by a multicultural team of locals, migrants and refugees, from teenagers to senior citizens. Our activities are not a one-way charity giving to refugees, but rather focused on what we can all contribute to the group.
Every week 100-150 women and children take part in this huge operation taking place both inside and outside the shelter. Your donation is a much-needed contribution to this work, making it plannable, scalable and sustainable. We are looking forward to empowering our community members, fostering peace and inclusiveness together with you!