In 2014, I travelled through Europe and I participated in a project called ‘Travelmakers’.
Travelmakers was a hitchhiking project to help an organization in Istanbul which supports children and women from Syria. We hitchhiked from Germany to Istanbul, spent some time in cities, played music, created street art, entertained an orphanage, collected donations for the organisation that we supported, made bracelets, danced and enjoyed our time immensely!!!
With this project, I learned that people can travel together whilst doing a lot of beautiful things for the world, and I found that participating in a project is a really awesome way for someone to immerse themselves in experiences they usually would never have the opportunity to enjoy, and find a unique way to do something they have always wanted to achieve, and see what is going on in the world that they never have seen before.
In 2015, I had no more money for travel so I decided to live and work in Germany. The war in Syria gradually worsened, and more and more people came to Germany for the hope of finding safety. I was living in small room in a student house, and in our neighborhood there were a lot of empty houses. The German government decided to rent the houses to refugee families and around Christmas time, 150 refugees had moved in. Thanks to this, I met some beautiful friends who now feel like a real family.
I learned German in the language academy and most of my friends who I met there were also refugees, not just coming from Syria but many other countries and including some countries I had never heard of before. They told me a multitude of sad and terrible things, such as, the reason why they needed to come here, how they survived, and how many unfortunate difficulties they needed to struggle through to be safe and so on. Something that really resonated with me, is the fact that refugee mothers and wives have it much harder than the men and children as they are obliged to work in the household and look after the children, meaning that they hardly leave the house and so learning the language and becoming a part of the German community is much more difficult. I have never seen a refugee woman come to Germany alone as it is really dangerous and like most places in this world, it is more dangerous for a female. Therefore, most women come here with a male member of their family. When they are too young to marry they come with family which usually have strict curfews, but they still go to school and so joining a new society isn’t quite as difficult. When the government allows it, the refugees are allowed to attend a language academy. The men generally go straight to the academy and start work, but the women have to take care of young children and so don’t have as much time to learn and sometimes can’t even attend. When the children grow old enough to be sent to school or kindergarten the women are sometimes not allowed to attend the academy by their husbands because they don’t want their wives going to study where all the other men are studying also. I met a woman in the academy who had lived in Germany for 19 years but couldn’t speak basic German. That was an eye opener! She had 8 children and was always so busy either by pregnancy or by looking after the children that she had no opportunity to learn. Her family were always speaking German in front of her so she couldn’t understand anything, and then decided to go to the academy, but her husband forbid her as he didn’t think her time was well spent just to ‘learn’.
The only way I managed to meet some of these ‘isolated’ women was because I had made some friends from the academy and was also living close to them, so they introduced me to their neighbors or other friends. I can certainly imagine there are plenty more women out there who don’t have the opportunity to leave the house or are stuck with abusive or terrible partners and they are helpless to even have any translations done for them, especially in regards to going to the police.
I have been in the process of organizing this project for a while, and here are my ideas:
1. The people who come here have difficulties to find a proper job as they require extensive language tuition plus they need to restart their careers, therefore most of the refugees here have a low social level.
2. Henceforth, if a woman can find work where learning a new language isn’t a prerequisite (which is very difficult to find in Germany), where the coworkers are also women, where the salary is decent and where the husband will let them work, would certainly help ease the struggle of settling in.
3. Once they start earning as a woman, then gender roles will start changing at home and everything else will fall into place.
So I wanted to build the place, where the women can work even if they can’t speak the language. The best idea was a restaurant because they can cook as they cook for their family every time. I would like to have a connection with the language academy and feminism seminars so that they can learn the language and then go find their own dream.
For this project to have a solid foundation I would love to learn how to properly support people and how to run an NGO etc. This is why I organized this travel project so I can incorporate many visits to NGO’s, collect recipes from all over the world to provide quality food in the restaurant, make videos, write articles and simply enjoy life.
I’m very excited how it will turn out! 🙂