Tina: ‘We founded Refugees Welcome Stockholm’

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Photo: Alexander Mahmoud

Tina: ‘We founded Refugees Welcome Stockholm’

I head for the central station in Stockholm. I have a paper bag filled to the brim with chocolate bars, thinking that I will only help out for a while. But it was total chaos, no clear organisation.

Every hour a train with migrants arrived. They were either going to stay in Stockholm or continue on, and we helped them with translations, train tickets and food.

I tried to coordinate everyone; it became my role. I didn’t sleep, more like collapsed in my bed at home.

The chocolate bars ran out the first day, but I ended up staying for weeks. We founded Refugees Welcome Stockholm and made sure refugees who came to Stockholm met with volunteers who could help them.

I was there from five in the morning until two at night almost every day. If I didn’t stay there for as long as I could, then how could I motivate others to stay and help out?

I opted out of my other life, the one outside the train station, including my master’s studies in political science. You can’t study the theoretical while there’s a humanitarian disaster going on.

When my mother and I fled – I remember – we were dropped off in the desert, and the first thing we encountered was the volunteers who picked us up by car. They saved my life. So now I feel compelled to do what I can for those fleeing today. If you always think about giving back, you close the circle. Yesterday I was the one who fled, tomorrow it could be you.

 

Go to Sweden and migration to get the bigger picture and the historical perspective.

Last updated: 5 April 2017

Alexander Mahmoud