By Katy Cowan
In his series Humans of LAGeSo, German photographer Timo Stammberger attempts to document some of the thousands of refugees that end up at LAGeSO – otherwise known as the ‘Landesamt für Gesundheit und Soziales’ – a refugee centre located in Berlin-Moabit.
It’s often the first contact point for newly arrived refugees where they can officially apply for asylum. But due to understaffing, people can wait for days to get processed, mostly left to fend for themselves with no food, shelter or medical care provided. Thankfully, the privately organised initiative ‘Moabit hilft’ has stepped in to provide the basic care these people are lacking at the LAGeSo centre.
Through his ongoing project, Timo hopes to raise awareness about the millions of people who have been forced to leave their countries in search of a safer, better future. He said: “Once they are in the system of immigration bureaucracy, they simply become a number. The aim of the photographs is to give faces, names and a voice to the individuals comprising the masses of people simply categorised as refugees by the media. I let them tell me their individual stories, share their hopes and dreams and I feel a responsibility to share these to raise awareness of the human condition around us.”
The LAGeSo represents all the other immigration offices in Germany which have become beacons of hope and new beginnings for the individuals and families striving for a safe and peaceful future.
Hanade and Riham, pictured above, are sisters from Syria. Speaking to Timo about their experience, Hanade said: “Our neighbourhood in Damascus is completely destroyed. After the war started, we fled to another part of Syria, hoping the situation will get better and we can return to our city. My father being a designer and entrepreneur, we had a very good life in Syria. Then the war spread to other parts of the country as well and we fled to Lebanon, staying for almost three years, waiting again for the situation back home to get better. But it didn’t. As Syrian refugees we had to stick to a curfew and you only earn half the money of what the locals get. Most importantly, our children were not allowed to go to school, which became my biggest worry of course. I want my children to have a future through education. As a result, life in Lebanon was no option for us.
“First, my brother Moutas took on the journey to Germany alone. Six months later, we followed him. We never got used to the constant danger and stress along the way. Especially in Macedonia and Hungary we had no food and very bad conditions, plus the police was threatening us. Bit by bit we lost all our belongings, leaving us with only what we are wearing now.”
If you want to discover the stories behind all of these images, then visit www.timostammberger.com.
Mahmoud and his family
Hagos and Miheret
Ahmad and his family
Benazir and her family
Naheed and her mother
Rami and his daughter Meriam