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In 2015, Christiane Beckmann showed up to the Berlin State Office for Health and Social Affairs for a casual volunteer opportunity. As Beckmann explained to us over Zoom, she had learned that a large influx of refugees were arriving in her neighborhood without basic necessities, and she wanted to help out her new neighbors. The “unimaginable” chaos she witnessed that day–1500 people sitting outside in 100℉ heat without access to food, quality medical care, or guidance on next steps–warranted intensive support beyond casual volunteering. She joined forces with Diana Henniges (founder of Moabit Hilft) and Ronja Lange to mobilize community assistance, hoping to address the critical humanitarian aid gaps left unfilled by government authorities. Now, nine years later, Moabit Hilft (“Moabit Helps”) has expanded into a full-scale nonprofit providing direct integration support for refugees, engaging in political work, and offering educational workshops for the public.

A hallmark of Moabit Hilft is House R, the organization’s “home base” since 2018. Beckmann described House R as a “safe place for everybody, where everyone is respected for who they are.” Refugees’ integration experience–especially in a large city like Berlin–is filled with complex social, economic, and linguistic challenges. House R helps refugees navigate these challenges through a variety of support services, including asylum hearing preparation, apartment search help, a Language Cafe for German and English practice, and a donation-based clothing “store.” We had the opportunity to “tour” House R via Zoom and virtually meet some House R volunteers. 


Beckmann explained to us that Moabit Hilft is a fully independent organization that collaborates with other refugee assistance organizations in Berlin to craft open letters on refugee-related policies and to meet with German government officials. When asked if she has noticed any significant changes over the years, Beckmann said that Berlin has improved in case management, but still struggles to provide adequate shelter for new refugees. In the neighborhood of Moabit and across Europe as a whole, much more needs to be done on a legislative level to expand opportunities for safe passage, improve transparency in the asylum process, and provide more comprehensive humanitarian aid to people fleeing conflict zones. At the end of our conversation, Beckmann shared a powerful sentiment: “You don’t have to open an organization; you have power every day. The most important thing we can do [to work toward refugee rights] is pay attention to each other and recognize each other.”




“Christiane, also affectionately known as “Nane” (Mama) by the staff, is the good soul of Haus R in Turmstr [street in Berlin district of Moabit]. She has been active for years when the civilian population needs to lend a hand to counterbalance disadvantages or to consolidate social justice.

In recent years, she has already organized the supply of helpers during flood disasters, made sandwiches for the homeless and has been involved in Moabit Hilft since the first day in August 2015 at the LAGeSo [Landesamt für Gesundheit und Soziales Berlin – Berlin State Office for Health and Social Affairs] site. Tireless, meticulous and detail-oriented in her fight for justice, she coordinates and looks after House R.

She is the point of contact for everything that makes the “bureaucratic jungle” clearer, or the asylum procedure understandable.

Christiane has mastered the art of making House R so much more than “just” an advice center and clothing store–namely, a place of arrival.” (Bio from Moabit-Hilft website Translated from German to English.)