A barrier-free life for a woman who breaks down barriers
Katharina Oguntoye has spent her entire life breaking down barriers of racism, sexism and homophobia. Now she needs your help to break down the barriers of inaccessibility. Katharina is an Afro-German historian, activist and author of the first book about Afro-Germans: Showing Our Colors, Afro-German Women Speak Out. Since six months, she must use a wheelchair and cannot leave her 4th-floor apartment without ambulance services. Carolyn Gammon here--that’s me in the photo with Katharina on the day she received the German Order of Merit, May 30, 2022, for her life’s work with the Black and LGBTQI* communities. I have been Katharina’s partner for over 30 years. We have a ground floor apartment in our beloved Berlin-Kreuzberg lined up, but it needs to be made wheelchair accessible. We need to have an accessible bath built-in, an accessible kitchen and a small elevator to the mezzanine.
In 1997, Katharina founded her multi-cultural association Joliba in Berlin-Kreuzberg, which has provided support to Berlin’s Black and POC communities for decades. Tirelessly and with remarkable commitment, she put community work first-- paying herself only a small salary so Joliba could thrive. Her work with the LGBTQI* community led to her receiving the Berlin Lesbian Visibility Award in 2020. My volunteer work in the field of anti-racism and writing books with Holocaust survivors means that we have both been focused on community work. We now are asking you to make Katharina’s move to a wheelchair-accessible apartment possible. Your donations will enormously improve her quality of life and allow her to regain her independence.
Cancer and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Since 2020, Katharina has been dealing with cancer of the lymph system and treatment side effects. This is on top of her chronic rheumatoid arthritis. In 2021 she was four months in the Charité Hospital here in Berlin. She contracted severe pneumonia, and we nearly lost her. One side effect of her treatment was a septic hip, which led to the destruction of the hip joint. Because of her health condition, she cannot be operated on and will be using a wheelchair now into the future. This is why we urgently need a new place to live. We have an affordable apartment lined up to be near our son Noel who helps out a lot. The new apartment will be on the future “Audre Lorde” street! -- the Black American Lesbian poet who helped inspire the Black German movement. She was Katharina’s mentor and friend.
Regaining an Independent Life!
With your help, we could start the necessary renovations and move to a wheelchair-accessible apartment at the end of this year!!! And Katharina could regain an independent life and once again actively contribute to the communities to which she has so much to give.