Fabienne Dimmer, in an archive photo, has continued to speak out for and support the plight of refugees during the coronavirus pandemic.
( Photo : Julien Becker / archives )
We continue our series singling out individuals, groups of people and associations or businesses who are going beyond the call of duty during the coronavirus pandemic. Today, Fabienne Dimmer of Catch a Smile.
It took a week or two for many Luxembourg residents to get used to confinement and start thinking of those less fortunate. There are now numerous initiatives to help the elderly with shopping, volunteer to sew masks or just offer social contact support.
But one person whose first thought when the government introduced its restrictions on movement and public spaces was of those less fortunate was Fabienne Dimmer of Catch a Smile. Dimmer, who has for several years been working tirelessly for the organisation in her spare time (she is the venue manager at den Atelier), was immediately concerned for the unaccompanied minors stuck in refugee camps in Greece that Luxembourg had pledged to provide with a home. In a post now made private, Dimmer even made a personal appeal to foreign minister Jean Asselborn saying that if the government could find suitable accommodation, she was willing to live with the kids until the situation improved.
But with borders closing it was proving impossible for them to travel to the grand duchy. Asselborn took time to place a private call to Dimmer, explaining the situation and the obstacles that prevented Luxembourg from taking in the children. But, in her Facebook posts Dimmer has not minced words when it comes to who she thinks is responsible. “We agreed that things could have changed long before Corona, like closing [refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos] Moria and that many things are not possible due to the blockings of different countries..... For me it shows that an EU does not exist....just a Commercial EU exists.” The kids have since arrived in Luxembourg, as Delano reported on 15 April.
In the meantime, Catch a Smile was invited by Luka Heindrichs, the owner of local nightspot De Gudde Wëllen to be part of a fundraiser (which also uses part of the donations to help pay their staff while they are closed) that Ënnert de Steiler also joined later. The funds raised can be wired to those helping in the field. For instance, donations from Luxembourg helped the Compass42 centre in Sarajevo purchase much needed washing machines. However, the group has also had to suspend collecting clothes and sleeping bags and other material as it does not know when it can next make a delivery.
In her latest Facebook post Dimmer expresses her personal thanks to those who have donated via the local bar appeals. She also explains the complications volunteers in the field currently face due to restrictions of movement in their respective countries, which means Catch a Smile is not publicising which particular groups it is assisting. “We don't want to compromise the activity,” she explains. The charity mostly helps groups that assists outside on the streets aways from the formal camps run by the IOM--"they get enough millions from the EU," says Dimmer.
But Dimmer is one person who doesn’t compromise in her dedication to helping refugees and her courage to speak out deserves all the praise it can get.