Starting Over in Berlin

For many refugees, Berlin is the final stop in a long series of border-crossings and large sums paid to smugglers. Once they arrive at LAGeSo, they are faced with endless bureaucratic procedures and long, often unbearable, waits in the cold. Yet despite the travails they have faced and the loved ones they have had to leave behind, most are grateful to have made it this far. They see Germany as a new beginning, a land of opportunity. The chance to start anew is especially meaningful for women, who are able to realize lives here that they never could have in their home countries.

Azula is an Iraqi Kurd. She arrived in Berlin 20 days ago by way of Lesvos, Greece. In Iraq, she would not have been able to work because she is a woman; in Berlin, her dream is to become a hair stylist.

(left) A young girl picks out much-needed clothing from a local charity housed at LAGeSo. About 20 volunteers come here every day to organize clothing donations and pass out hot coffee and tea to the refugees.

(right) These refugees stand at the entrance to the tent designated for women as they wait for appointments to renew their papers. 

(below) Many refugees can be seen carrying bright red pieces of paper like this oneofficial documents issued by LAGeSo.

A father holds his baby daughter as he waits in the chilly 28-degree weather. One hopes that Berlin will offer her a better life.