DUISDORF · Visitors to the Welcome Café in the parish hall of the Protestant Johanniskirche parish feel like one big family. The Treff is meeting place, playground, nail studio and Nachhilfestudio at the same time.
Bärbel Goddon stands attentively by the waffle iron. Elegantly dressed in a business dress, her gaze rests steadily on the control light. In front of her, a queue of the small people of different origins forms, waiting impatiently for the hotly longed for, steaming pastry. "Bärbel? Will they be ready soon?" "Wait a while longer," she says gently, while the childish impatience infects her and Goddon dares to take a look inside the waffle iron. Too pale. Today is time for the Welcome Café again in the parish hall of the Evangelische Johanniskirche parish in Bonn-Duisdorf.
Since September 2015 fugitives from Syria, Lebanon and North Africa have been meeting here. The café has long been more than just an information centre. "The name Welcome-Café is too one-sided. A new name is needed. We have already collected ideas. It was important to us that not only we submit proposals, but that the fugitives in particular come up with ideas. Among other things the Café for all should be suggested thereby. We would never have come up with this idea," explains Ursula Bihler, who also works for Ökumenische Flüchtlingshilfe Hardtberg (OeFH), while unusual sounds are heard from the adjoining room: "The Nigerian congregation is celebrating its service here right now," Bihler explains by the way.
The smell of icing sugar and waffles is replaced by a biting chemical smell as Bärbel Goddon enters the cellar of the congregation hall. A little girl with dreadlocks puts her little fingers on the table, while Zora wipes the brush off the cap of the nail polish bottle. The high school student gently applies the varnish to her tiny dark fingers. The girl shines as her fingernails sparkle blue. While Zora continues to paint, Daria continues to sort colorful bottles.
Work in the Welcome Café is "inherited
Daria and Zora are so-called "IB-ler", do an International Baccalaureate at the Helmholtz-Gymnasium and are both in the eleventh grade, the Q 1. "We are here since October last year. For us IB students it is obligatory to participate in social projects. The work in the Welcome-Café is inherited from year to year, so to speak". Both schoolgirls like to spend their Sunday here, because from time to time you learn more about the children, teach them something, but you also learn a lot yourself: "Recently, girls showed us how to weave a special bracelet. We found that very interesting," says Zora Dyer.
There is no free second for Goddon. When she goes back upstairs to see what's happening, she is stopped in the middle of the stairs. Three boys present her with freshly baked waffles. "Take one, Bärbel." Thanking them she separates a little heart. "Take a whole!" Goddon nods gratefully, pats one of the three on the shoulder and continues. Back in the big room she meets a girl: "Hello, Bärbel!" "Oh, Malak. Good to see you!" "I'm happy too".
Goddon bends down to her and hugs her warmly. "I have a particularly intimate relationship with Malak. She came to Germany at the age of ten. At that time only with her father. Her mother was still in Syria. After half a year Malak and her father were deported to Lebanon for reasons that no one can comprehend. It was all the more gratifying when we were able to welcome Malak back here together with her father and mother at carnival". The project has long since become more than a place for the transmission of information. It is a café without borders, a place for friends. For families. Borderless.
(Original text: Bettina Freund; Translation: Mareike Graepel)