We are sitting opposite one another. He starts talking.
We both have images in our minds. Painful, brutal, incredible images. And yet there are not the same. Mine are created, they are fantasies and are similar to those that I know from the television. The ones from Ahmed build on experiences. His dark eyes tell a story full of fear and suffering. I can feel how desire and uncertainty are pressing hard on his shoulder like a fetter.
But all of a sudden, something breaks through the dense veil of depression. At the first moment it seems incredible, almost unreal. Ahmed laughs. It’s not like the friendly smile of a cashier or the one of overwrought friends or of a indulgent a mother. It’s different. Restrained. But it’s real.
At this moment, I started to realize. It’s like Ahmeds laugh removed a bandage from the eyes. The bandage with which so many of us believe to protect themselves. Maybe even you. It is easy to turn off the TV, to turn the radio down and to turn the newspaper. It’s no challenging, badmouth about politicians, to discuss that too much is being discussed. Transforming the consternation to anger and screaming with the crowd until the voice fails.
All I’m asking now, is to give me a moment of your time and pause to think. What have you got to lose? -A simple question. Can you imagine that such a simple question is the basis for a changing everything, vital decision? That it is the starting point for a journey where nobody can say you whether it will end in death or in paradise? No, I also couldn’t do it. Until I sat facing a man who saw exactly the scenarios from the media becoming reality and the reality of all violence hit me in the middle of my heart.
In the meantime I visited the asylum seekers twice in my hometown. Every time we were welcomed warmly and openly and the gratitude they brought forward to us was overwhelming. I will never forget the glow in the eyes of the men as they took the food, which we had previously “dumpster-dived” (the kilo-wise disposal of unspoiled food from supermarkets can be countered with this) and the palpable joy about the fact, that someone is interested in their history. The joy, that somebody gives them the feeling, that they are important and needed.
And also you can do it.
Each individual of us is required to give faces to the refugees. Because they’re not only “refugees”, but people with an individual identity, with dreams and goals and a personal life history, who have deserved it, to be treated as such. They don’t ask for the sacrifice of your leisure time or a percentage of your monthly salary. All these people want, is to be adopted – and that’s human. Because honestly: Where’s the difference?
I get up, Ahmed says goodbye. Then I turn to the door and to my everyday life, where love, trust and security are waiting for me. I’m leaving Ahmed. In a foreign country, faced with skepticism, rejection and a lack of understanding, and with an uncertain future.