Knowing each other is the key to acceptance

Adi works at a coffee shop near Women’s Market. She is an energetic and smiling lady. She has a fast speech, but even faster switches to informal “you” and can surprise you with her good knowledge of Greek. She quickly became acquainted with all regular customers, as well as with the elderly residents in the neighborhood. Everyone will sit down with her and tell her about his day, his joys and sorrows.

There are many fears and prejudice about refugees and the Women’s Market area, but for Adi it is unthinkable to judge for a person only by his appearance. She does not like to hear about the definition of “those people” when talking about refugees and asylum seekers: “Why do they call them that way? Are not they like us?”

She has got to terms with Caritas’ employees for several months, as well as many of those seeking protection in the organization. “Hi, Ahmed, long coffee with sugar, isn’t it?”, her bell-ringing voice could be heard out on the street before her clients had entered the shop.

Knowing each other is the key. Communicating with refugees gives you the clearest idea of what people are, Adi said. She claims that refugees are quite sociable. She is impressed of how warmly and cordially they kiss and hug each other when they meet at her place.

“In the morning they will come in and without asking them they brace up and start helping me, they pull the press stand out so that I do not drag heavy things” Adi praises her clients who have come to seek a new life in Bulgaria. She thinks she respects her precisely because she treats them respectfully, but also because she understands them well: “I know what it is like to be a foreigner, I know the feeling of being alone in a foreign country, I do not think they came here out of good. On the contrary, it is difficult for them to cope, but they are trying hard, they are very easy to make friends, I have not seen any bad attitude from them.”

Everyone can find a common language and common terms with people seeking or receiving protection, Adi is convinced and adds, “It is only one thing – at least for a moment to get into their shoes. Imagine what they had left behind and what has happened in their homeland to make them leave without taking anything, carrying little children, to travel for months on such dangerous routes.”

Adi has personally seen how quickly a Middle Eastern refugee who lives in the building over her store has learned to speak Bulgarian. “At first he knew only how to order a coffee, but he now speaks so clearly and fluently that I feel pleased when he drops in and greets “Good morning”, “Good evening!”. I can’t help but encourage him. I tell him that he is doing great and very quickly and I see the joy sparkling in his eyes.”

“She is a wonderful person – her life is not easy and her work keeps her on foot for many hours, but she always meets you with a smile,” say the refugees who live and work in the area. The hope of addressing each other with respect and receiving human attitude is mutual, so believe Adi and her new friends.