Thursday, September 6, 2018

Three years plus

It's been three years plus a few days since the picture of Alan Kurdi's body rocked world media coverage. It's been three years plus one day since German chancellor Angela Merkel said those famous words "Wir schaffen das!" (translate that as 'We'll manage and get that dealt with.') with which she permitted over twenty-thousand Syrian refugees in the Bukarest train station to travel on to Germany.
A lot has happened since then. For one thing, the sentence is being used to throttle Angela Merkel, and Germany's ugly face of extreme right wing thinking has been rising ever since. Here is a comment on how the statement seemed to be changing the world in a positive manner, only ten weeks after it was spoken. How different something can look with just a little more than two years onward.

I never really liked Angela Merkel before that sentence, but I do love her for that sentence, and the attitude it showed. I am appalled at how this single sentence has been thrown back into her face from various alpha-male-politicians in this country, and how every problem in this country is being tied down to 'the refugee crisis'. Which is simply not true, these are problems that have been building up over years of political inactivity in various areas and that dissatisfied people are now connecting with that once single issue that is by far not the most important question we have in this country right now. I still don't really like Ms Merkel - now more for reasons of her not living up to the potential she showed in that single moment, for her lack of putting those alpha males into their place, for her 'merkeling around' (as the newly-coined verb is being used in the media).
When I look back at what has gone on in these three years I am at a complete loss at how things will or can go on. Somehow it has shattered all my beliefs about the country I gew up and live in. And probably these feelings and beliefs will never be the same again. Not that I ever was a happy German, but I saw justice, I thought equal rights, I wanted this to be a country that had learned from fatal historic events and developments for which our forebears were  responsible. Not so - my discomfort has grown to such a degree that it feels a bit like I have lost what little 'home' I ever had.
In these three years (I had started before, so I was already deeply involved in the matter, but that does not make a difference) I have worked very hard trying to help refugees in this country find a way. At first only a few Syrians, one of whom came for German lessons regularly once or twice a week, has since completed a school degree and has just now finished his second year of vocational training with a large global company, is almost fluent in German and will certainly find his way. He calls me 'aunt', and I am so proud of him! The a few issues brought me close to burn-out, if I wasn't there already, I withdrew a bit and wanted to put more energy into quilting - if I wasn't getting paid for my work, I might as well do something that was pleasant. But when I was approached whether I would like to apply for teaching German as a foreing language to a class of refugees in a special program - getting paid - I could not stay away, got deeply involved again, made wonderful friends amongst the students and was, that's what it felt like, ridiculed twice by the Bavarian government and authorities when they refused to give work permits to a third of each of the two classes I taught. They wanted to take up nursing or taking care of the elderly, an area in the job market where German hospitals and care-homes desperately need personnel.
I decided to quit - I will do something else. I will still be involved with refugees, I will fight for my friends until we achieve what we want to have or until I drop dead. But I won't get paid by an authoritiy that is not permitting to become real what they are paying  me for to do. Probably this doesn't make any sense, but explaining it all would be a bit too difficult and long-winded.
I am working on another quilt on the topic of refugees. There are almost 7 more weeks left to enter this quilt in the SAQA call for entries 'Forced to Flee', which I do want to be a part of. The symposium this year tied up my energy and 'swallowed' one inspiration that I had been pondering as a possible entry for this call. But I have another one in the line, and serious work has started. I will try, even though the time is rather short.

One part of the design and technical execution being stored in a
plastic bag to avoid air humidity to change its state, which
is one thing I have learned during the symposium that
it happens to avalon film when left out in the open...

On the wall, yesterday evening. (Admittedly not much to see, just to proove my words.)
Honestly, more would I wish that it would not be necessary to have such a topic for an exhibition. And I really wish there will be a future where we won't have people crossing oceans on rubber boats, hypocritic judgements on the side of rich nations and this horrible kind of xenophobism that is making the rounds. I wish we would understand that we are all humans, that we have only one world to live on and that it won't be possible to continue like we are doing. In terms of exploitation of resources, climate, human condition. I wish. But do I hope?

No comments:

Post a Comment