September has been a big month for Misch Mit! We have been involved in two big events with the community and the reaction to both has been positive.
The first was the ‘day of action’ with grassroots garden collective ImGarten on September 9th. A team of around 20 people, including refugees living in the hostel, Imgarten volunteers and Claire and Annette, worked together to clean up the park that’s situated behind the hostel in Quitzow Strasse, Moabit. The park hasn’t always been well-maintained and sometimes there are people drinking and taking drugs there, often leaving empty glass bottles and their drug paraphernalia in the park. So there was a lot of work to do!
Over the course of the day, the team worked hard to collect all the rubbish and garden waste. A number of rubbish bags were filled! Many mothers from the refugee centre came along with their children and were really pleased that the park was being cleaned up. It was a great day for the children living in the hostel too. Some of the men from the hostel got involved in building the wooden plant boxes, while the children added their personal touches by painting them!
The day ended with cakes, biscuits and some home-made rice made by some of the women living in the hostel.
Abdul Kadar, a Syrian/ Palestinian refugee living in the hostel, enjoyed getting involved in the clean-up. He said: “It’s been a really nice day. It was great for everyone to get involved and help out.” Dani from ImGarten agreed the day had been good and looked forward to working on the garden more.
Mikeal Ucar, the son of the Turkish/ German family who manages the hostel, said that it was great to see something happening with the park as it’s not always been the nicest place for people to spend time in. Claire from Misch Mit added: “This is only the beginning. We hope to establish ImGarten and Power21 to do activities with/for the kids on a regularly base.”
The next day – Saturday September 10 – was the annual Kiezfest in Moabit. The event has been happening for a few years, but it was the first year that Misch Mit was involved. It also meant that it was the first time all of our partners were coming together in one place in the neighbourhood, so it was an opportunity for the community, the refugees living there and Misch Mit and its partners all to connect and find out more about one and other.
Thankfully, the weather was lovely and people spent the day eating, socialising and seeing what was on offer for sale at many of the stalls. People living as refugees in the area visited the festival and were seen taking pictures and playing on the fussball machine. All of Misch Mit’s partners were in attendance – the full list of who was there include: Autor Anonimo, Demokratie in der Mitte, FremdeFreunde, Hand in Hand, ImGarten, Kiezsportlotsin – Susanne Bürger, Kochprojekt – Max Frey und Freunde, Moabit Hilft, Otto-Spielplatz, Paten für Flüchtlinge, Schalasch, They Have Names and Wendepunkt.
There were performances throughout the day, with acts across the main stage outside Rathaus Tiergarten, and other parts of the area, as well as presentations to some of the people involved in some of the refugee work in the area.
There was also a special performance by Misch Mit’s Claire, who gave a salsa class to some of the crowd. An experienced salsa dancer, she wowed the crowd with her moves and had people on their feet enjoying themselves, even if they were finding some of the steps difficult!
This was also the first time that the mayor of Gesundbrunnen, Moabit and Wedding, Herr Dr. Hanke, met the people behind our partner projects. Claire took the mayor – or Bezirksbürgermeister – around to each stall and he spent taking discussing their work and the refugee situation in a bit more detail. After meeting them, he said: “It’s a very colorful, well organized event that gained flavor by including the network partners and refugees in the cultural and musical program on stage. By the way, did I mention that I really appreciated the art work you did in the display case?“
Overall, the day was a good first step in bringing together people who live in the community, the new arrivals to the city, and introduce people to the various projects from the area that are working to help refugees better integrate. The partners we spoke to had similar feelings and for many, the day helped recruit more volunteers. Here’s what some of them had to say:
Lea Bergman from ‘FremdeFreunde’ said: “The bags we made were really liked by people and we are happy to have been here today.” The people behind ‘Demokratie in der Mitte’ said: “It’s been a positive day for us – there’s been a good response for the children.” And Dani at ImGarten said she thinks having the stall has helped raise some awareness around the work they do.
Summarising the day, Claire and Annette said: “We are very happy that a large public attended the Kiezfest. It was a very familiar atmosphere. 30 kids from Daniel Sonnentag’s project THEY HAVE NAMES came with their families. Now we are looking for our next event: Team works. The first edition will take place in April 2017 in Wedding/Gesundbrunnen, the second edition in June 2017 in Moabit. Get ready to bridge the cultural gap between the new people – the refugees – and the local population! Let’s meet our new neighbors!“