Annika first moved to Kreuzberg, with her mom back in 2007. Just a few blocks away from their place, there was an old school building that had become home to a number of refugees looking for shelter.
A few years later, the refugees using that building for shelter were evicted, and had nowhere else to go. Annika and her mother, who are very active in their neighborhood, knew they had to do something to help. They took in a young man who had been sleeping rough since the eviction and welcomed him into their home. They fed him, helped him learn to read and write, paid for his medical care and sought legal advice to guide him through his asylum request.
What started as helping one man soon turned into helping others. And the cost of supporting their legal and medical bills quickly escalated. That’s when they turned to Airbnb to make a little extra money. Since 2015, they’ve been hosting guests from all over the world and using the money they make to support refugees starting their new lives in Berlin. Using their Airbnb income, Annika and her mom have been able to set up the Bantabaa Association.
“Bantabaa means ‘meeting place’. With the money we earn thanks to Airbnb, we are able to make ends meet and support even more people who need our help,” explains Annika.
Annika is currently supporting Sanna and Morro who both live in her apartment and, in return, take care of her Airbnb guests. Sanna tells us proudly that he has helped welcome guests from more than 20 countries. He loves spending time with them, introducing them to his favourite bars and cooking authentic food from his home country, Gambia.
For a year and a half, he has been living in Annika’s apartment. Alongside his Airbnb work, he’s also employed at the Bantabaa Food Dealer Cafe, which is part of the Bantabaa Association and supports local jobs for refugees. During the week, he finds time to go to school where he can learn German and maths, all organized by Annika and the Bantabaa Community and take place at the Food Dealer Cafe.
Airbnb believes that everyone has the right to belong, no matter who they are, where they’re from or what they believe in. That’s why we’ve partnered with Annika and the team behind the Bantabaa Association to organize dinner parties and community-evenings in support of Sanna, Morro and other refugees so they can leave their worries behind them and begin a new life here in Berlin.
Photos: Sebastian Berthold