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Tonight

Tonight, I cannot sleep. Tonight, I think of my friends.

Tonight, I cannot sleep. Tonight, I think of her.

She lived in a refugee camp in Berlin for two years, until the camp and all her belongings burned down in a huge fire with an unknown cause.

She invited me to the dormitory she has been transferred to for traditional Eritrean coffee. It was the best coffee of my life.

She is kind, humble and curious. She is sharing a small room with two others, and due to troubles with some people in the dormitory, she doesn’t feel comfortable to live there anymore.

Recently, the dormitory management probihited the usage of the portable camping stove needed to prepare Eritrean coffee.

She is currently looking for a shared apartment in Berlin. She is thinking about opening an African hairdressing shop and is learning how to ride the bike.

Tonight, I cannot sleep. Tonight, I think of Mohammad.

I met Mohammad online, when he asked me for help with a question about his software project.

When setting eyes on his code, it became clear to me immediately that Mohammad is an incredibly talented software engineer. His code was cleanly written, beautifully arranged and architectured.

I have yet to meet a developer that cranks out websites as cleanly and quickly as he does. What I didn’t know at that time was his age - 16.

Mohammad lives in Iran, a country with over 80 million inhabitants and a higher GDP than Norway or Austria.

Almost no major online website offers their services to Iranians. Iran is not connected to the European or US American banking system. Imagine you’re filling up a sign up form, and your home country is simply missing from the list.

Mohammad is currently building his own startup, and is heavily involved in the web development community.

Tonight, I cannot sleep. Tonight, I think of Christian.

Christian is a developer advocate, creating educational content about software development. He is well known in the web development community and has a very unique and positive vibe.

I have frequently spoken to him on Twitter and Slack, and have come to know him as energetic, smart and charismatic.

Countless times, Christian has been invited to speak at big and reputable conferences in Europe and in the US. Every single time, his Visa has been denied.

Recently, he rallied up the Nigerian developer community, and collaborated with two developers from Microsoft to organize a conference in Nigeria.

With over 20 top class speakers, hundreds of live attendees and thousands of people joining the live stream from all over the world, the two day conference was quickly sold out and a huge success.

Christian is now working on establishing the conference for the long term and continues to grow the Nigerian developer community.

Tonight, I cannot sleep. Tonight, I think of Daniel.

I met Daniel at the main station of my hometown Karlsruhe almost three years ago. He was asking me for directions, as his smartphone had no mobile data. He didn’t have a tram ticket, so instead he walked there.

Daniel is diligent, eager to learn and willing to help and get involved. In all his time in Germany, Daniel was not allowed to work.

At a tech meetup he joined me for, one highlight of the day was Google’s Daydream, which “takes you on incredible adventures in virtual reality”.

Over softdrinks and pizza in the break, Daniel shared his heart-wrenching experiences caused by the bitter war between two shattered countries.

Daniel has invited me for traditional Ethiopian food. This is the last time I will see Daniel for a long while as he is being sent back to Ethiopia, a country he has not lived in for the last 20 years.

Daniel is currently collecting funds for the travel and is preparing for the move in two weeks.

Tonight, I cannot sleep.

Tonight, I am sad about the pain and hardship in this world. Tonight, I am angry and overwhelmed by the unfairness and the absurdity of it all.

But tonight, I will not stop to meet people. Tonight, I will not stop to listen to their stories. Tonight, I will not stop to learn from their experiences.

And tonight, I will not stop to make a difference. I hope neither will you.

Thanks to all my friends for letting me share their stories, and for being an inspiritation to me and the people around them.

Published 31 Aug 2018

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