Who we are
Bantabaa is Mandinka, a West African language and means meeting place. The Bantabaa Community Project began in 2015 as a meeting point for refugees around Görlitzer Park in Berlin Kreuzberg and is today an integration project focusing on education and jobs in the catering sector.
We are working for the holistic support and integration of refugees, meet them, listen to their stories and help them to take their future into their own hands.
It all started with the Görlitzer Park
For many years many refugees have been selling drugs in the Görlitzer Park, mainly from West Africa. The number has risen considerably in recent years. But not only are drug dealers are in the park. The Görli, as the locals call it lovingly, has become the meeting place for the many refugees from West Africa. The many different user interests led to considerable conflicts. In addition to the drug trafficking, the many tourists, crime, garbage, parties and noise also caused increasing displeasure in the neighborhood. The Berlin Senate tried in vain to curb the drug trafficking of police. The district brought up coffee shops after the Dutch model.
Although the refugees are at the center of the discussions around the Görlitzer Park, the problem has been discussed almost exclusively from the perspective of drug trafficking. The personal and social situation of the young West Africans, on the other hand, was largely ignored by the media, politics and many local residents. It is above all the case that the fugitives are denied access to the German labor market and therefore do not see alternatives to drug trafficking. As a result of the European asylum rules, many of the refugees ("Lampedusa refugees") who have come to Italy through Europe have long-term residency and labor rights exclusively in Italy. But there is neither work nor social assistance. The rich Germany does not feel responsible. Therefore, Lampedusa refugees are excluded from any state aid for refugees. But also refugees who are tolerated in Germany are very often lacking in education and training for a job as well as in knowledge where they can get help.
The Bantabaa community has emerged from the neighborhood. Local residents wanted to help the refugees from the Görli where Europe failed - typically Kreuzberg.
Bantabaa helps where no one is responsible
The Bantabaa Community has created a retreat in the club room in Falckensteinstrasse. There, language, literacy and mathematics courses take place, we have established residential communities, provide legal advice and medical care. The community dinner takes place every week. The refugees cook together with neighbors and supporters. When the weather is nice, we will have a long table at the soup bar in Wrangelstraße 82 or barbecue in the Görli. This creates contacts and friendships between neighbors, visitors, tourists and refugees. And we create a platform for the specific problems of the Lampedusa refugees. We want to meet the refugees, share their stories and help them to take their own future into their own hands - here or in their homeland.
Our goals: training and work - The Bantabaa Food Dealer
For the state there are no Lampedusa refugees in Germany. For a problem that does not exist, you do not need a solution - it's that simple. We see it differently. People live with all their needs right in front of our doorstep. Our goal is to provide refugees with a perspective that allows them to live a dignified life. This includes training and work. We want to create a perspective on drug trafficking and prevent new arrivals in the park.
An important part of our association is the Bantabaa Academy. With this qualification program, we provide basic knowledge in the catering trade, in order to prepare the participants - the Bantabaa Food Dealer - for an internship, an apprenticeship or a job. Parallel to non-profit activities, we founded a social enterprise, the Bantabaa Kitchen. With a catering company, a soup shop and a delivery service for soups and stews, we create work and training places for the Bantabaa Food Dealer in the kitchen and sale and hope to be able to finance the Bantabaa Community in the long term.
As a privately financed association, however, we can not present a comprehensive disembarkation program. We want the people who live here to get a chance, regardless of legal status.
And last: Is the way back an alternative?
No one goes without reason for a dangerous trip to Europe. Even if the political change in countries such as the Gambia makes a return possible, it must be taken into account that young men ensure the survival of large families. They send money and hope into the home. You can not just go back, even if many have great homesickness. The government's programs are far from sufficient to make a return to the country of origin for refugees a real alternative. What they need is, for example, an education here in Germany and starting capital for their own company on the ground. We are also committed to this.