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A dream comes true

Our manager from Gambia, Pa Malang Saidy, also known as Grandpa, is visiting Germany!

A dream comes true

Kerstin Tenschert Fuge

Our association chairwoman, Kerstin Gebhardt, made the wish to invite Grandpa to Germany come true. We wanted to show him that Europe is no paradise, but that many have to struggle with poverty, boredom and the longing for family. The dream of luxury has burst like a soap bubble for most refugees. Kerstin G. sacrificed a lot of time, energy and many a sleepless night so that Grandpa could hold the visa in his hands.

Our manager comes to visit Germany for a whole three weeks. Kerstin and other members of the association put together an interesting and busy program. It was not just sightseeing, but also a visit to a refugee shelter in Stuttgart, an initial reception camp in Munich, working as a nurse in a hospital, mucking out at a farmer's, but also fishing, a sightseeing flight over Dessau, a tour of the BMW plant, etc. were on the agenda.

On 8.7.2017, we had our annual general meeting. All participants were looking forward to seeing Grandpa again. At the meeting, the status of the projects was explained and further work was agreed. Grandpa thanked us, on behalf of all the residents of Kitty, for our support and the good and fair cooperation.

Grandpa has had an eventful few days. He was able to experience that even in Germany you don't buy everything ready-made in the supermarket. People in The Gambia often have a false image of Germany. It's good that Grandpa has now also seen people here who don't have a roof over their heads and that donations don't fall from the sky. I think he already has a lot to talk about when he gets back home.

He was able to get an idea of German agriculture and can't understand why vegetables have to be a certain size to be sold and are otherwise thrown away. Cassava is currently being harvested in Kitty's garden. It's similar to our potatoes. And people don't care how small or large the cassava is - the main thing is that it fills you up. Logical really - isn't it?

The big machines have all of grandpa's admiration. The early rising and the hard-calculated working hours probably not. But Grandpa puts up a brave fight and accepts every challenge. He even does excellently at salsa lessons and archery.

Kerstin Gebhardt sums up the last few days. “ Grandpa realizes more and more how much he has to stop his people from escaping. He has had calls again today from fellow refugees who have seen on Facebook that he is in Germany. They are asking him for help. They are not allowed to work, have no papers, are bored and miss their families. As they see that he is with lots of white people, they think he can help. My pride in our grandpa grows. He tells them that he will fly back to tell his fellow countrymen the truth. Germany is a wonderful country to visit. To become a happy refugee is an impossible task for many. He has understood that it has become a lucrative business for some Germans/Europeans. The banks make a tidy profit on every transfer home.”

He talks to some of his compatriots on the phone every day and tries to dissuade them from their plans to flee. He says he will take the time in Gambia to talk to the young men (and their parents). After hearing about the dangers of fleeing and the situation in Libya from his compatriots in the refugee hostel, he understands more and more why he was invited. He said to me today: “I am so grateful to you. Yes, you explained everything to me, but now I'm experiencing it. And I understand you. I promise to educate my fellow countrymen. We have a beautiful Gambia without war. We have to work together locally for a better home. A home where there is no more hunger. Europe is not the solution.”

With many memories, interesting experiences, but also having made the acquaintance of so many friendly people, our manager can make his way home. We hope that he will pass on his knowledge about Germany and the dangers of flight to friends, family and refugees. If he succeeds in doing so, then every effort will have been worthwhile.

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