September 9, 2018

Refugees at the Liebfrauenhöhe

from Sr. M. Irena Kober

Since February 2015 we have been hosting refugees in our former boarding school building. In the meantime, 12 families have already been relocated to their own homes in Rottenburg, Ergenzingen, Hannover-Münden, Hechingen and Thanheim. There are currently 35 refugees living in our dorm: from Nigeria 3 adults and 4 children, 7 Syrian adults and 4 children, from Iraq 6 adults live with us and from Afghanistan 8 adults and 3 children live here in our house. The youngest child is 2 years old and the oldest resident is 73 years old.

Numerous religious groups

We have Shiites and Sunni Muslims who get on well with each other, unlike their home countries, where there are always conflicts between these Muslim groups. Otherwise, there are still some Catholics and Chaldean Christians who belong to the Catholic Church. A Nigerian belongs to a Christian religious group that does not exist in Germany. Everyone respects others, even if they belong to another religious group.

A colorful folk

So we are a colorful people, trying to live together peacefully. All of our refugees have brought with them traumatic experiences of escape and terror in their homeland and are still suffering from it. Some have never attended school and now have to learn to read and write with difficulty. For example, when M. was in 2nd grade, her teacher was beheaded because it was forbidden to teach girls and women in Afghanistan. Professionally, most men have worked as shoemakers or tailors in their home country, but without proper training for this profession. Therefore it is difficult for them to find a job. A man is currently undergoing sanitation training and is the best apprentice in his / her traineeship. He proudly showed me his commendation.

Honesty

I’m proud of our refugees because they are honest. Just last week, a Syrian family found a purse in Rottenburg at the train station and brought it to me. We were able to locate the owner. When the mother and her son picked up the lost wallet and thanked the family, they said, “That’s self-evident, we’re also happy when someone gives us back a lost wallet.”

An Afghan family acted in a similar way. A couple discovered € 200 in a jacket pocket. The jacket had been given to the woman as a donation. It was natural that she brought me the money, and we could also find the owner here. So many Germans marvel at the honesty of refugees.

Great birthday party

Yesterday, the Afghans celebrated the birth of a girl. They had lovingly decorated the large hall with crafted stars, garlands and balloons. It is customary in Afghanistan to have a big party when a child is born. Many relatives living in Germany for many years were invited, as were the refugees from the house. With much love they cooked and baked and all dishes were prepared picturesquely. All guests dressed in holiday robes, which they had partially sewn. With joy they ate, laughed, danced and later also tidied up. Exemplary! The many children played outdoors and made their own entertainment.

I find time and again that despite the suffering that these people have experienced, they are still attached to their home and culture with love. We Germans are always given new presents when we meet refugees openly.

Serve in all areas

Many refugees have major health problems. So they need me as a mediator for a medical appointment. At times, I have to fight for their rights as well. Waiting for acceptance often takes a long time. The families are crowded together in small rooms. This often causes a psychological ordeal. In such situations, I can help a little with listening and careful counseling, and especially with praying. A married couple now got a deportation order after waiting three years. All others from this country received a ban on deportation a year ago. To cope with such deportation commands is hard.

Even the fight with the job center or with the district administration costs a lot of strength. Without my help, the refugees usually have no chance to enforce their rights. I am pleased that through my work with the refugees, I can contribute a little to strengthening peace in the world lacking peace.