We live in Berlin, two countries away from Ukraine, a two hour flight to Kiev, a 14 hour drive, 1300 kilometers or 840ish miles. Poland is directly in between Germany and Ukraine. We are close to what is happening in our world. To me this feels extremely close. To my European wife we have plenty of distance. But either which way you look at it we are nearby. Thousands of Ukrainians are fleeing their homes, not knowing if they will be able to return. In Berlin, there are many businesses donating funds from certain products, they are collecting things to send to the border, and hundreds of people are standing by at arriving trains to offer solace, places to stay, and comforts. Berlin has been known for accepting refugees and have figured out how to offer living situations and accommodations.
Other European countries have opened their doors to Ukrainian refugees and while that is awesome, it makes you wonder why these refugees have space in Poland while Syrians and Turks have repeatedly been turned away from safety when they flee war torn situations. I mean, it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out the differences but in Germany we are no stranger to welcoming those from other places, no matter their situation or standing.
In our household, like every household around us, we have been talking about the situations around us. We keep in tune with what is happening so nearby and lament that we aren’t talking even more about other countries being bombed and torn up at the same time (Somalia for example) by other super powers in the world. At times it feels a bit hopeless and yet what can we do?
The other night we found a few places that we could add our names to a couple of lists that are compiling places people could stay for a few nights. We have a fairly comfortable couch that turns into a bed and a comfy air mattress. We have two extremely hospitable pups and while our apartment isn’t very big, we have openness and willingness to make it as comfy as possible. We felt like the least we can do is to offer up our home to people who may need a place to land while they get placed by the city and apply for asylum. We were told by those who sent us the lists that the lists are already really long of people willing to house people but we felt we would be remiss if we didn’t add our names as well. What a cool thing that the spaces available are so plenty we may not be tapped!
A new friend to me recently opened up her home to a few people fleeing their home. Her cleaning person is Ukrainian and came to her to ask for advice as to how to house four extra people in the city. My new friend told her to just get them to Berlin and then we would all figure it out from there. So in addition to their family of five they took in five more people for a few days and are wading through the system together. She said to me, “What else could we do? Aren’t we called to this? We don’t really have the space but I can provide food and shelter for now and we will all just make it happen.” I walked away in deep admiration of people that are open and say yes.
We will continue to watch and figure out what we are called to do and educate ourselves about what is happening in our world.
Are you watching? Are you helping? Are you educating yourself not just about Ukraine but about the many other spots in the world that are being dominated and war torn?