During our missions we find ourselves in a certain dilemma. Basically, wherever we start working, we have to adapt to improvised structures that are not approved by us or the people in the camp. The actual goal shouldn’t be improving the quality of life within the camp but to give people the possibility to cross borders and to choose a place where they actually want to live.
It is our deepest conviction that a national border cannot be an insuperable edge to the pursuit of freedom and security.
Coming up with sustainable solutions within these improvised structures is challenging. The goal should not be to constantly treat symptoms (e.g. floors for tents or serving soup) but to grab the root. Isn’t it paradox to create foundations within a frame you aim to repeal, to implement sustainable structures within an environment that should be a temporary solution at most?
How much do people in camps have to endure before they get listened to? And which part do volunteers take in this process? Should they deescalate in tense situations (e.g. a road blockage) or step back and let things happen as they unfold?
Every activity we plan and conduct should be a sign of solidarity and nothing less. Solidarity for us means to feel and to stand with people affected by injustice and suffering as if it happened to ourselves. We don’t act out of pity, because this would mean looking down on people as if they were helpless, passive objects. We want to offer assistance in a messy situation – we want to be part of a solution – together with every person feeling involved.
Many times we ask ourselves whether volunteers and the people living in the camp can interact on some kind of eye-level. There are the ones who have means and the ones who don’t. There are the ones who are allowed to move freely and the ones who are not. Which role do we take and how do we handle situations like food distribution where WE suddenly represent an authority and establish rules and restrictions in this already externally controlled daily-life? This and other sensitive questions are the topic of the article “Keep quiet and eat soup”.
In every moment, no matter how stressful, we try to see each person who is cooking with us, working with us or queueing in front of our distribution tables as an individual with a unique story, an untouchable dignity and with freewill that must be respected.
Supporting on site is as important to us as spreading the word and inform our fellow human beings about these disastrous conditions. It cannot be our goal to silence people and serve them soup. This is what we have to tell ourselves over and over and what we want to tell you now. That’s why we say: GET INFORMED, DISCUSS, SPEAK UP, GET INVOLVED AND IMPACT.