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Lessons from Berlin and Our German Sister Club

The Rotary Club of Dupont Circle is partnered with the Unter Den Linden Rotary Club in Berlin. In fact, the two Rotary clubs are considered "sister clubs" by Rotary International. Both clubs are located in capital cities and are keenly interested in social service in our communities, countries, and globally.

Last month, I had the opportunity to visit the Unter Den Linden Rotary Club in person. I enjoyed meeting professionals from different backgrounds who care about the same things we do - polio eradication, education, water and sanitation, and women's empowerment, to name a few. The culture of every club is different - but what we care about and work on together is what makes us part of an international movement than makes a difference in the world.

Europe is presently dealing with a refugee and migration crisis on a scale not seen since World War II. Every refugee and migrant is a human being with human rights. Despite this, the authorities of some European countries have beaten, exploited and prevented the onward movement of refugees and migrants, many of whom are women and children. But not Germany, which expects to receive 800,000 asylum seekers, and possibly more by the end of the year.

Germans gather daily in train stations to applaud refugees, provide them with food, clothing, and simcards for their phones. Many have even taken refugee families into their home. In fact, a couple created a web-site through which refugees are matched up with families who can accomodate them. Soccer matches have been held where hundreds of refugees were able to attend for free. I saw flags and t-shirts which read "Refugees Welcome" throughout Berlin.

As a Rotarian and just as a human being, I feel proud of their response to the needs of vulnerable people. Germany is setting an example that we can all follow when faced with human suffering. This was our first visit between our two clubs, but I am confident that it will not be our last. We look forward to working with the Unter Den Linden Club in the years ahead.

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