Table for two…refugees

Today at the LaGeSo, we welcomed many new people, be they asylum seekers or new volunteers.
As I was outside at the children’s corner, an elderly woman, looking quite well-off, came forward with a request: she wanted us to find her “a homeless refugee family, but only from Syria, not from the Balkans, with two, or maximum three children”.
At first we thought she was offering to take them home for a night. In fact, the lady wanted to invite them for a dinner to the restaurant in the late afternoon and intended to bring them back to the streets afterwards. “To show them something else than this dreadful place”. To support her words, she showed us a photo published in a local newspaper, of a child refugee staring blankly at the camera. “See, his eyes look dead, it’s dreadful isn’t it?”, said she. The child looked indeed very sad. So do hundreds of people who have seen what we often chose to ignore from our comfortable shores.
Despite the (underlying) kind gesture of that woman, I couldn’t help but wondering what good it would do to bring people who obviously have other immediate preoccupations to a restaurant, only to be brought back to their daily misery afterwards. Maybe she would have felt she had done a good deed, but what good would it have been for her guests?
We explained to her that she might be better off bringing some food directly to homeless refugees should she wish to do so, or to have a look at the list of needs published daily by the group “Moabit hilft” on their Facebook page. We also underlined the fact that people here are more preoccupied by their immediate future than by finding out about what the city has to offer in terms of leisure.
On the one hand, it feels good to see people trying to do everything they can. On the other hand, now is also a time to reflect upon what the Other needs, and not to think about what would make us feel good in front of the Other, now is a time to learn how to selflessly share.

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