Friday, April 5, 2013
Serve the city Den Haag
I am always in awe at Fiona's kindness and wise words. She is a living example of how to make a difference in your community, an expert at showing how little gestures, like simple company, massaging someone's hands or bringing cake or flowers to a friend at a random moment can make a huge difference. We never know what each of us is going through at any given moment and the little things can bright up anyone's gloomy day. When she wrote about an oganization called "Serve the City" I knew I had to find it. And I did. Last weekend we joined one of their programmed activities, helping out at Sacrament's Church. Since January, about 25 asylum seekers, mostly Iraqi Kurds, are staying at the Sacrament Church in The Hague. The Ministry of Security and Justice confirms that these refugees would not be forced to leave the country.
The tasks consisted in helping these men and women with a couple of handyman jobs to make the lives of them easier in the church. I never realized, but a church can be a very very cold place. At this moment, there is a common area that is well warmed (where they have a TV and even a playstation), but most of the people are sleeping in the main hall. At this moment they are building some rooms with simple insulation so that they can be warm at night. I brought 2 boxes of muffins (that everybody loved, I was glad to see) and as soon as we arrived we found ways in which to make ourselves helpful.
Churches can be very dark places. As soon as we got there, the boy, electrical engineer that he is, took his Voltmeter out, opened the electricity boxes and figured out if all was working. Then, with some other people involved in lighting up the place, he worked in setting up a connection to light at least half of the church.
I was worried I was not going to be able to do anything, as I am not handy at all and DIY-ing is not something I am good at. But we quickly found out that the kitchen was disaster area: all the cabinets were mixed, dusty, and it seemed everything had just been thrown in at random. So, together with another girl, we took everything out, washed dishes, cleaned the cabinets and organized it in a logical manner. It does not seem like a lot, but it took us some 4 hours. The rest of the time was spent sharing lunch that some other volunteers had brought with the refugees and talking about their countries, what they miss, their dreams.
The boy, who takes every project as a challenge, and as soon as something needs to be fixed absolutely has to solve it, is already figuring out how to help out to optimize the lighting (on the other side). It felt good to be able to help, if on rather small ways, to their comfort. And it all made me think on how arbitrary borders are, as men have been migrating since the dawn of times, and everyone should be free to move as they please, more so when faced to war or other situations that I can not even begin to imagine. It made me think of how, in the middle ages, churches actually used to be places of refuge for people on long journeys.