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On Kids, Refugees, Communication

For this entire past month of May, every Tuesday and Thursday evening I packed my music gear and cycled up to Moabit, to the emergency acceptance centre for refugees (Notunterkunft für Fluchtlinge Moabit), ran by Berliner Stadtmission.

The refugee centre proved itself to be the most particular stage I ever performed on: my crowd is well… between three and ten years old. I wear the very same kinky tutus I usually employ for my queer satirical cabaret shows, just that instead of Miss Stereochemistry, there’s a wacky Music Fairy wearing them. Turns out those skirts match perfectly not only with my usual 12 cm stilettos, but also with striped clown leggings of screaming colors and a pair of pink wings.

We sing, we dance, we jump, we scream and we play musical games together. We got no common language other than music, and what I came to call “The Universal Kids Language” (TUKL). These kids come from all corners of the globe, from Syria to Pakistan, Ethiopia, Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo. I’m armed with five languages and two instruments.

Although Serbian-Croatian is my mother tongue, and sometimes we got kids coming from Ex-Yugoslavian territories, I use it rarely as our communication is non-verbalanyway.

I’ve learned more about human communication over this month than ever before in my life – keep in mind that this comes from a multi-culti person coming from a generation-long multi-culti family, who’s lived in six countries and was obliged to learn three languages starting from scratch in no time. There’s too much to say on this topic, so I’ll dedicate a separate post to it soon.

To anyone longing for an injection of pure, unspoiled unconditional love, I say: go work with children. We got new kids coming in every day. This is just a temporary short term shelter so people stay between two and ten days only. Meaning you got loads of new humans at each session and no time for slow bonding. Meaning you have to strip your soul down to being a child yourself again and just give in.

The fairy comes and she’s met with jumps and cries of joy and hugs and kisses and many little hands hanging around her neck, playing with her hair and wings. The kids who have already had one lesson with her come running first. New kids join in and off we go with the shebang.

They’ve turned many of my overworked, free-lance-artist exhausted evenings completely around. There were nights where I literally dragged myself to the Notunterkunft; it’s a forty-minute cycling trip with over 20 kg of stuff tagging along in my bike trailer.

Then you arrive there and five complete strangers come, knock you on the ground and kiss you and hug you and grab your hand and tell you: “I’ve been waiting for you the whole week to come back!”

And you’re left thinking: “This is what it is worth living for”.

If you want to get in touch with Notunerkunft Für Fluchtlinge Moabit, please send an email to: (Mathias Hamman)

Music Fairy at Notunterkunft fuer Fluchtlinge/Emergency Refugee centre in Berlinfrom stereochemistry music on Vimeo.

A massive thanks from the bottom of my heart to the entire Notunterkunft team, in particular Mathias Hamman and Nicola Roth, and to Berlin Street Music Team for making all this possible.

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