The Open Hearts Space aims to create a safe space for those being exposed to a new culture and life dynamics by encouraging intercultural dialogue and supporting trauma healing. The project uses artistic and bodily forms of expression as a tool of communication to overcome linguistic and cultural barriers. Our volunteers go through a learning process and develop skills to provide support in culturally and psychologically sensitive situations. The Open Hearts Space works with families, women, and children for extended periods of time.
What is the Open Hearts Space about?
The Open Hearts Space builds long-lasting trust relationships between people. It focuses on facilitating healing processes of people living with experiences of migration, trauma, and sense of alienation by creating a trauma and culture-sensitive community. It develops innovative approaches toward individual-oriented, accessible methods of support, body and mind work, and personal development.
The Open Hearts Space started as a grassroots response to the sudden change in Berlin´s demography due to the arrival of thousands of people from other countries looking for safety and a new start. Hania Hakiel who has conceived and run the project with migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, joined Give Something Back to Berlin in 2015. The activities have continued under the name Open Art Shelter for several years, before changing to Komorebi, a Japanese word to describe “the scattered light that filters through when sunlight shines through trees”. However, the project’s aim and focus remained the same throughout this process: creating an open, safe, and creative environment for people who want to connect, share, or get a moment of calmness. The activities and target groups varied differently over the past years.
Many people have volunteered in and contributed to the Open Hears Space. Some of these people have stayed for longer, dedicating their skills, love, energy and time-loads of time-to offer to others with much-needed attention, acceptance, and creative inspiration. We cannot thank these people enough. Some of them are Ania Bednarczyk, Ania Stryjewska, Annick Repellin-Holzgreve, Beatriz Gómez, Carlotta Duken, Christoph Thun, Elisa Moll, Julia Pelta Feldman, Ken Wallingford, Liz Ricks Aherne, Lucie Wirz, Patrick Haddad, and Sinéad Walsh.
Open Hearts Space activities
Since its start, the Open Hearts Space has created a community of care and support. All activities are designed to function as safe spaces, specially catered toward those with vulnerabilities and trauma histories. The activities are open to everyone but at the same time are protected spaces. Our team consists of volunteers and participants. Volunteers are responsible for organisational support and are expected to commit extended periods of time. Participants, although they are always free to give a hand in organising activities, join our activities without a particular time commitment. We offer regular supervision sessions and support to our team.
Open Hearts Space conducts four regular activities: Open Art Space, Family Whole Being Programme, Lockerlassen (Loosen up!), and Frauensprachcafé (German language café for women).
Open Art Space: Tuesday afternoons
The idea of creating such a space calls upon the old tradition of arts and crafts circles, that is known in almost all cultures across the globe, where people used to spend long evenings telling stories, playing music and doing handicraft. We meet to create an art oasis where anybody can express themselves freely through art, have a nice conversation or just stay silent. We provide art materials and a peaceful and accepting atmosphere to spend time by painting, drawing, knitting, doing embroidery, sculptures, or collages.
The Open Art Space gives us the chance to stay connected with ourselves and enjoy creative moments, as we support others with acceptance and presence. We meet every week to create together and invite anybody who may need some moments of peace.
Time and location: Tuesday 4 – 7 PM, Refugio
Activity coordinators (we prefer calling them “caring spirits”): Antonina Stasiuk and Lucie Wirz.
Frauensprachcafé: Thursday afternoons
This child-friendly activity is open to women who want to practice their German skills. German language cafés address an important need for newcomers and help grow their speaking skills in everyday life. However, the Open Hearts Space community observed that women have not always felt comfortable attending these cafés due to the men’s domination of conversations. Women’s participation in these activities is low partly because of religious and cultural beliefs, meaning avoiding mixed-gender spaces. In other cases, women are unable to attend as they cannot leave their children alone at home. The Frauensprachcafé offers babysitting services and provides women with the possibility to speak German in a safe and relaxed environment.
The approach is very flexible and helps many migrant women who have isolated themselves to build a network of friends over a cup of tea and talk about anything, from sharing recipes to finding a good computer course while improving their German. Frauensprachcafé is more than a language café. It aims at growing a community and solidarity network of women.
Time and location: Thursday 4 – 6:30 PM, Refugio
Activity coordinators (we prefer calling them “caring spirits”): Annick Repelin-Holzgreve, Carlotta Duken, with special thanks to Elisa Moll for her deep commitment and skill-sharing.
Lockerlassen: Monday afternoons
A women’s group-oriented toward stress relief, movement, body awareness and relaxation through peer-to-peer support. It addresses the needs of women who haven’t been physically active for a long time, carry excess tension and pain in their bodies, or who feel excluded by traditional fitness or yoga cultures. The program includes health-supporting activities like gentle yoga, dance, massage, or walks in parks.
Lockerlassen currently hosts women coming from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Poland, and Somalia who meet regularly every week. Additionally, we organise excursions into nature and individual massage sessions and provide individual psychological counselling and support via Messenger.
Activity coordinator (we prefer to call her “caring spirit”): Antonina Stasiuk and Agata Waśko.
Family Wholebeing Programme: Upon need and mutual agreement
This programme aims to cultivate stable and safe relationships with families who were forced to flee their countries of origin. With a holistic approach toward the needs of individuals and families, we provide psychological and emotional support, while helping also in practical and organisational matters. This includes individual support or providing a creative safe space for children.
Additional support may vary from a group trip to the zoo or swimming pool to organising a birthday party with a cake or helping to translate bureaucratic documents.
Support and care for the relationships: Antonina Stasiuk
With special thanks to Ken Wallingford and Christoph Thun for their commitment to the programme and families, and to Bissan Awwad and Rama al Ghamian for linguistic and cultural interpretation support.
Get involved with the Open Hearts Space!
Participate in our activities!
We are a safe, cosy, and welcoming group. Let’s get to know each other, paint or learn a language together. Let’s talk, let’s laugh, or sit in silence. Join us and become part of our community!
Volunteer with us!
We are a closely connected community and appreciate people who would like to commit themselves to work with us. Our volunteer roles require a minimum of six months of commitment. We invest in and follow individually our volunteers’ personal and professional growth. We share our creativity, energy, and care with each other. Regardless of background and life stage, we believe everyone has something to offer and take…
Donate to sustain our work!
All our activities are free for everyone. We need your support for buying art materials for women and children, catering, renting activity spaces, and transport. We appreciate all donations, big and small and you can choose a one-off donation or set up regular monthly or yearly contributions. You can donate by following the instructions on this page.
Donate art materials!
We use various art materials in our activities with women and children to boost creativity and allow them to express themselves freely. We also need books for children mainly in German, English, and Arabic, as well as undamaged toys. If you have spare materials that we can use in our workshops, please let us know. You can send/drop off donations to Give Something Back to Berlin e.V. office address: Lenaustrasse 4, 12047 Berlin.
The Open Hearts Space looks forward to hearing from you! Please contact Antonina Stasiuk directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Read more about the Open Hearts Space:
Thanks for the support Buddy Bär hilft!
Thanks for the support The Whole Being Fund in San Fransisco, US!
Huge thanks to the Krankenkasse BKK Verkehrsbau Union for your support!
Thanks to the support from Qatar Foundation International!