Community Hubs

A Benefit Concert at the Berlin Hub

This month, Berlin Hubmanager Ilja is taking a step back from writing, to give the stage to Sen who will share her story of how she made a benefit concert for Ukrainian refugees happen at the Hub, with at least 70 attendees, 800€+ in donations gathered and a joyful time spent:

On June 4, 1989, the Chinese government opened fire on its own citizens for staging a peaceful protest in front of Tiananmen Square in Beijing. It was because of this incident that my family immigrated to Canada. We may not have been refugees, but we had left our families, our home, our culture, our language, and everything we knew behind, with nothing guaranteed for us on the other side. 

This story could have gone many wrong ways, but the Canadians welcomed my family and others like mine with open arms. Growing up there, I was somehow fortunate to have always been surrounded by various kinds of community. When I moved for university, it was never hard to find someone to enjoy an evening with, or to help you move house. I took it for granted that community would always be there, in any place I chose to live. 

Arriving in Berlin seven years ago was a rude awakening. Community here in fact, was scarce to be found as a newcomer. It was hard to make good friends, and harder still to find a space where we all felt we belonged. I slowly came to realize that as with most things worth having in life, community had to be built, rather than expected. 

When the war in Ukraine broke out, and refugees began arriving in Berlin by the masses, I felt paralyzed by the sheer volume of need that was coming our way. Basic supplies, shelter, transportation, translation, and everything that people needed to restart their lives was being called for across a cacophony of social media channels. Doing everything was impossible. Doing one thing felt too little. Doing nothing felt tragic

It became evident that this was going to be a long-haul project, and if we wanted to avoid burning ourselves out, we had to find a way to give sustainably. For me, this meant that the giving had to also provide an opportunity for people to offer their unique talents – things that only they could do because of who they were. 

Through a lucky spark with a musical friend, the idea of a Benefit Show featuring local Berlin performers came together. On April 10th, shortly after pandemic gathering restrictions were lifted, we held the biggest event the Hub has hosted yet. We maxed out our capacity with more than 75 guests, and 25 performers bringing electricity to our shopfront space. 

Musicians, circus performers, theatre improvisers, and even a henna artist offered their gifts to the audience. Together, with the help of Ilja, Inna, Lauren and Miranda, we raised over 800 euros, which will be donated to Berliner Stadt Mission – a local organization helping newly arriving Ukrainians.

Things that are valuable don’t happen by themselves. Every good memory we have has been the result of work by the invisible hearts, hands, and brains of people who cared. I was welcomed to Canada by people who didn’t know me, and I got to be a part of that society because I was invited to be. Because of that, my body remembers the feeling of belonging. And because belonging is a truth that lives in me, I can help to create it for someone else. 

Thank you Sen. It was a bliss to join the occasion!