I hardly know where to start, what to say or even if I say. But…..it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t say something in my own convoluted, rambling, trying to make sense of it all, way. My opinions, emotions, fears and hopes are all over the place, but this is me right now and the subject is refugees.
Here I am, smack dab in the middle of German ” give me your tired and poor, your wretched masses yearning to breathe free.” That used to be the number 1 saying in the USA but now it’s Germany. I didn’t ask to be in the middle of this crisis and trust me, neither did the Germans. But here we are and what to do? Germany has agreed to accept 80,000 Refugees this year. That’s right…80,000. A country the size of Montana admits and re-settles 80,000 people and I just happen to be in refugee central. And the entire USA which is 100 times larger is going ballistic over 10,000?
A year ago, if I saw a black person, it was unusual and I noted it. Today? North Africa is now truly a presence in Germany. Though not nearly as prevalent as Syrians. I am, and we are surrounded by Syrian refugees. And I am not 1/10th as afraid of them as they are of me. It appears that every little town and village in Germany has been informed they will accept “X” number of Refugees regardless of nationality. Blink your eyes and prefab housing appears in every town I pass through. One room ” Luxury” apartments for families of any number with a shared bath.
Many, if not most of these “pop up pre fabs” are located in villages where stores, trains, schools and the ability to become acclimated are located. Not so in Kreuzestraase. This tiny crossroads is 3 km from us heading left to Holzkirchen. Right in the middle of absolutely now where! 5 -1/2 miles from a grocery store in Feldkirchen and 8 miles from a grocery store in Holzkirchen. Really folks? Come on now. Kreuzestrasse is nothing but a spit on a map. I drive past there frequently and every time I do, my heart drops a beat. What if? What if it were my family? My son? My daughter? Every time I drive by, I see a couple of people, human beings, black and white just standing outside in the middle of nowhere Germany.
I know they are cold. Africa and Syria.
Yesterday, on my way to Brückmuhl to the grocery, I passed a group of maybe 12 refugees who had obviously just gotten off the train and were headed and LOST, trying to find their way to their assigned “Luxury” quarters. 3 tired men, the rest were tired, scared women and little kids holding Mom’s hands, heading in the wrong direction. They carried white plastic bags containing all their worldly possessions. I caught the eye of one very pregnant woman who smiled at me,hopeful.
Yesterday I packed up sweaters, hats and scarves that we don’t use and drove over to Kreuzestraase. I was greeted with suspicion by a man who appeared to be in authority either by election or by self appointment. Friend? He asked me several times. Friend? He was a Kurd. A 20 something year old man from Africa joined him and greeted me warmly. Friend, he asked me? A young teenage male entered our circle. He was very friendly. Shivering. He said his name was Mohammad. Friend? He asked me. I could see 4 or 5 women inside the center appearing to be cooking. The men were all wearing jeans and light weight shirts. It was 40 degrees outside. They had no warm clothes. I gave them clothes and oranges.
Today, crazy, stupid, foolish or …..not, I went shopping.
Because on 9/11/2001, when our country changed forever, I got my daughter and my niece. They were with me and safe. I HAD them. My son was 22 years old. Living far away from home. I did not have him. I did not know if he was OK and the world was spinning far away from this mother’s love. It was only later that he told me that this aging hippie he worked with “had him.” She went to my son and told him she would make sure he was safe. She would take care of him. This woman will never know the depth of my gratitude.
Today, I hope some mother in Eritrea or Syria, worried sick as I was, knows that someone has her son “covered.”
I don’t know a lot. But I do know that when a hand is extended in friendship it is much more powerful that a fist intended to hurt.