Majid Albunni works as an editor for a project of empowering alternative media in Syria. He is a volunteer too and, as if this wasn’t cool enough, he used to be a member of a refugee band called Lomnava. The moment I mentioned Give Something Back to Berlin, he was up for this interview.
Tell us a bit about yourself; your background and how you came to Berlin.
My name is Majid Albunni and I am from Syria. I am a journalist with a background in political science. I left Syria in April 2012 to go to China. From China I went to Malaysia and from Malaysia I went to Turkey to finally do a Master degree in Turkey. Then I continued to Germany.
In Germany, I started working for about 3 or 4 months and then I applied for asylum. After applying, I was out of work for few months waiting for the asylum procedure. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to go back to a job I had and things worked out well for me.
I work for MICT- Media in Cooperation and Transition, an organization specialized in supporting alternative media in conflict zones. They have a project consisting of 10 radio broadcasts in Syria called Syria Network; I am an editor for this project. We didn’t help establish them, but we gathered them into one network. We also provide this network with infrastructure to broadcast within Syria and make their daily programs accessible for an international audience outside of Syria via websites and apps.
I heard you used to be a member of a refugee band. Do you want to tell us about it?
Lomnava – Refugees and Friends, yes! I was a member of this refugee group, which was supported by Give Something Back to Berlin. I contacted them and they needed a guitarist and I told them I have been playing the guitar for 9 years. They play reggae music and I wasn’t familiar with their style, but, it turned out to be a lot of fun.
We had refugees from different countries along with our German friends. Once we held a musical party in Sharehouse Refugio. It was a great experience playing with those guys! Unfortunately, I got really busy with my job and I couldn’t continue with them, but they are still playing.
How else are you connected to Give Something Back to Berlin?
I was looking for a place or community to help refugees when I came to Berlin. Me and my friend heard about the community meetings that they have at Give Something Back to Berlin. I met with the co-founders and all the good people working there. I was informed about their projects and what they do for refugees. I taught English to some Arabic-speaking refugees there. I always try to go to their meetings whenever I have time. I always find time to support them because I think they are really one of the most reliable and sustainable organizations in town and they need to be supported and expanded.
How do you find life in Berlin?
Oh, wonderful! I think Berlin has a great international atmosphere and it’s a perfect city for somebody who is adapting to a new culture. You know, we Mediterranean people are too active! We need an active city like Berlin to lift is up. Not all people want to go out for a late dinner at 1 a.m. The city is perfectly facilitated, people are helpful and, also, most of them speak English, which I think is important.
What’s next for you?
It is a hard question. I would say definitely capacity building. I would like to learn more, meet new people and maybe travel more. I am thinking about how I can affect the lives of the people around me in a small but positive way. All of us want to change the world, of course. But I try to be more realistic. And at the end of the day I too want to find myself, like anyone does in this life. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I just don’t know what I want, but I will be travelling with the wind to find out.
Shima Vezvaei is an Iranian communication researcher and journalist studying between Saint Petersburg and Berlin.