Arnon Grunberg



An empty church has many purposes; it could be converted into a shelter for refugees without papers for example.
Exactly this is what happened with a church in the Bos en Lommer quarter in Amsterdam. (See: here.)
This afternoon I visited the church to give a workshop on writing. There are presently more than 100 refugees living in the church. All of them have been refused permission to stay in the Netherlands, but for various reasons the Netherlands is not able to deport them to their home countries, mainly in Africa.
There are toilets and showers in the church, and there is some heating, but compared with a COP in Afghanistan the refugees live in squalor.
Six refugees attended the workshop, two men and four women.
It was not easy for the participants to tell a story. One of the participants kept repeating: “We are all brothers and sisters.” But it was obvious that brotherly love is hard to achieve. Even in a church with more than 100 refugees.
Nevertheless, I hope that the workshop fulfilled a purpose. I promised to come back for a sequel.

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