It was a lofty goal: to set up, organize and hold three events to coincide with World Refugee Day on June 20, 2018. But President and Founder, Christine Funke, wanted a way to show that working with refugees is an important issue for the Heidelberg International Women’s Club. Along with raising awareness and talking about these events, and therefore this issue, the Club raised €260 for the FAWCO Target Project, Hope Beyond Displacement!
Taken together, these events show the diversity of the membership of the club, the interests of the members, and the strength of working together to get things done. Through a book discussion, a party with refugee women, and a challenging walk through the middle of the night, the HIWC is committing ourselves to supporting refugees living in our community and around the world.
Additionally, the HIWC joined FAWCO in supporting the FAWCO Target Project in considering that many of us chose to leave our home countries, but what if we had no choice? This meant that the HIWC was taking part in in a larger, global-wide campaign through our FAWCO membership to fundraise for the Target Project on World Refugee Day.
Special Book Discussion: When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi
Through FAWCO membership and connections, Christine was able to get in touch Nadia Hashimi, the author of the book When the Moon is Low, a fictional story of a woman who must flee Afghanistan with her children to get away from the Taliban. Nadia had spoken with other FAWCO Clubs in the past, and was willing to speak with a group of HIWC Members who gathered at Christine’s home after reading the book.
The book discussion was engaging but getting the chance to chat with the author herself was amazing! She was thoughtful, kind, funny and in the middle of a U.S. congressional primary campaign, but still had time to speak with us. She gave us insight into how she created the characters, how she wanted to create situations that she thought couldn’t possibly happen in the journey of a refugee from Afghanistan to England, but do happen now. She answered our questions and impressed us with her candor and approachability.
It really was a special moment for the members who attended this event, and those avid readers who have been part of the Book Club for a few years.
Zuckerfest with the Refugee Women in Freinsheim
Originally a picnic on the Neckarwiese had been planned for the afternoon on June 20, World Refugee Day, but due to logistics and timing, a few HIWC members went out to Freinsheim, a small town in the Pfalz, about 40 minutes away from Heidelberg.
The Zuckerfest (sugar party) celebrated the end of Ramadan and everyone brought a dish to share. The organizers of the Frauentreff (women’s get together) spoke and welcomed everyone, and translations in Arabic and Persian were given as well. Lots of small children ran around the room and everyone enjoyed the food.
The Club continues to keep in touch with the group, Miteinander in der VG Freinsheim, who spoke at the January Monthly Meeting. We hope they’ll be a good resource as we continue to work with refugee women in Heidelberg and that the groups can support each other in various ways.
A Walk Through the Night
The series of events wrapped up with an hour walk starting at midnight along the Neckar River in Heidelberg. Modeled off of “The Night of the Refugee” held in The Netherlands, this walk was purposefully challenging to help us understand a bit better what it might be like to have to walk at night to leave your home and go somewhere unknown. While, we can’t ever recreate or fully understand what that might be like, the women who participated appreciated the chance to walk and talk and discuss ways for the Club to continue to develop our charity and volunteer work.
We got a selfie on the Theodor Heuss Bridge with a clear view of the moon to remember our first Walk Through the Night.
Overall, it was a successful series of events and we’re happy to have supported the FAWCO Target Project, Hope Beyond Displacement, with a donation, as well as, talked about this issue with our new Club. We can imagine that each year we’ll want to continue to use World Refugee Day to raise awareness, do some activities together, and fundraise for the refugee projects that are meaningful to us.