Refuge for Immigrants


People all over the world are seeking better lives, and sometimes that means starting over in a new country. In Germany, immigrants have come from Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries for decades. With no access to daycare, a program called Meetingpoint provides a safe haven for children in immigrant neighborhoods. Reed Galin reports.    


(Locator: Berlin, Germany)

In Berlin, tourists visit the city’s most famous landmark, the Brandenberg Gate. But just a few miles away, children play in a world far-removed from mainstream Germany. They live in Berlin’s most depressed neighborhood.

Ann-Christin Puchta/Meetingpoint Worker: “Most of them come from very poor families. Their parents make them leave the house in the early morning and don’t let them in again until evening.”

Five years ago when members of a United Methodist Church across the street from the park noticed the kids, they opened their doors to help with food, classes, and activities.

The Rev. Holger Sieweck/Pastor, Evangelisch-methodistische Kirche: “What we learned with the work with the children is that many of the immigrants that come to us have a very hard life and we learn about this fate and the problems of the people through the children.”

And the problems of the people here are wrapped up in their Middle Eastern immigrant status. Since few speak German, they can’t get jobs and that leads to other issues.

Ann-Christin Puchta/ Meetingpoint Worker: “A woman can’t leave her husband even if he beats her up once a week, because she would lose her right to stay here.”

Despite the challenges, adults who help these children say there are bright spots.

Ann-Christin Puchta/Meetingpoint Worker: “I get back very much energy love and power from them. And if you come here and a little girl is running to you and throwing her arms around you because she is so glad to see you, that’s a present.”


In addition to programs and food for the children, the Meetingpoint staff invites the children’s parents to meet church members in an effort to bridge the differences between Christians and Muslims.