Berlin, Schönefeld, September 16th

When we’re not at the Lageso, we are on Facebook or Twitter, looking at official updates and trying to find out when the next train or bus with refugees on board will reach Berlin.
This time, we find out at around 3pm that a train with 300 will reach Berlin the day after. A couple of calls, we’re soon 5 people willing to go to Schönefeld station. No one can tell us the arrival time though. We find out at 8pm that it will be at 7am the following day.
Everyone gets out again to buy bread, cheese and halal sausage to make sandwiches. Only one of us speaks arabic.
We meet at 6am and drive to Schönefeld. The roads are empty, just like the former DDR hall we reach 30 min later. A fireman opens the door, greets me warmly and shows me where we can put our food. “Just do as usual!” he says. This makes me cringe. The usual, as if this was a normal situation.
The paramedics arrive, as well as the police forces. They come up and see what we’ve prepared. They ask us if we brought translators as well, because 300 people are expected. Our only Arabic speaker steps forward. He’s briefed by the police and comes back to us. We’re informed that the train will arrive an hour later.
Another volunteer arrives, as well as two members from “Moabit Hilft”. They plan on greeting the refugees on the platform before coming back to share the food.
For six hours, every hour, we’re told the train is on its way, that it will be here within an hour, within two. Sometimes, the updates announces 150 refugees, sometimes they’re 300. But volunteers and officials get on well, unsurprisingly, since without our initiative, nothing but water would be provided to the refugees.
At one point, a policeman asks me “so, come on now, we need more volunteers, and translators as well, call your friends!”. I answer that we do our best, that it is actually part of his job to provide people with first needs and translators and that, contrary to him, we are not paid to be here. He laughs. Our only translator is 19 years old, he’s worried about being alone to help hundred of expected people.
Finally, at 1pm, a train with 68 persons on board reaches the station. We prepared food for 200, on our own money. Most of us didn’t sleep, and won’t have a chance to do so in the coming days: tonight, on the Facebook page of the Senate for Health and Social Affairs, three buses are announced for the next couple of hours. 500 other people will reach Berlin by a train expected at 7am tomorrow. Yesterday’s team can’t do it, we all try to find other volunteers, more translators. We’re exhausted. Exhausted to be there, to try and sort things out, to see that there are only minor improvements. It’s 10pm, and we don’t know who will be there to welcome the refugees tomorrow morning, or if anyone will provide them with food. Another day, another planned chaos. As usual.

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