Max has been with Sea-Watch for two years. In the fundraising team, he is the contact person for our supporting members. Today he tells us how he came to Sea-Watch, why it needs supporting members at all and what his most memorable moments with Sea-Watch have been so far.
Hi Max. You have been with Sea-Watch for over two years. Before that, you worked for a long time in an online record store. How did you end up joining Sea-Watch?
Max: I already knew and appreciated the work of Sea-Watch while working in the record store. Over time, my frustration with European foreign policy grew immeasurably. I no longer wanted to stand up for safe and legal escape routes only with words, but also with deeds. That’s why during this time – that was in 2019 – I started going to demonstrations organised by Seebrücke and other civil alliances working for refugees. We wanted to take our protest against the actions of politics to those places where these inhumane decisions are made. We demonstrated in front of the Parliament, the Federal Office for Migration, the Ministry of the Interior and in many other places where the deaths in the Mediterranean are sealed.
When I saw the advertisement for a vacant position in the Sea-Watch fundraising team in 2019, I thought for the first time that I could contribute something to the civil response to the dying in the Mediterranean not only in my free time, but also through my professional activity. It actually worked out with the job. From the beginning, I was thrilled to see how many people with different skills are working together at Sea-Watch for the same cause! This enthusiasm continues to this day.
What exactly do you do as a contact person for supporting members?
Max: Together with my colleague Esther, I take care of all the concerns of our supporting members. This mainly means that we answer emails and are in contact with our supporters also by phone from time to time.
We also organise regular events for our supporters, where they can get to know our work on the water, in the air and behind the scenes. Special highlights of last year were the presentations by our Legal Team and the Advocacy Department, which advocates for our political interests at European and national level. This year we have again planned many exciting events for those interested!
Why does Sea-Watch need supporting members at all?
Max: It’s actually quite simple: Without our supporting members, our operations in the Mediterranean would simply not be possible. The maintenance of ships and aircraft is very expensive. A large part of our running costs is covered by regular donations. Thanks to our supporting members, we are able to plan our missions long-term and securely. Only in this way was it possible for us to rescue over 2400 people from distress at sea in six missions last year and to fly over 120 missions with our aircraft.
When you look back on the last two years, what was one of the highlights in your work?
Max: I started at Sea-Watch in autumn 2019. It was shortly after the Sea-Watch 3 mission, where Captain Carola Rackete and crew rescued 53 people from distress at sea. For over two weeks they were then denied entry to a safe port, which is why they eventually had to declare a state of emergency and dock on Lampedusa. Carola was then legally prosecuted – in fact, all charges against her were finally dropped in Italy only a few weeks ago.
The Sea-Watch 3 was also illegally detained for months. So when the ship was finally freed in time for Christmas 2019, it was a huge success for us! This feeling of euphoria always comes back to me when we or another civilian sea rescue organisation manage to set sail against all odds.
What are you looking forward to most in 2022?
Max: We are currently in the middle of preparations with our team of runners for this year’s Berlin Half Marathon in April 2022. We were overwhelmed by how many people want to dedicate their run to civilian sea rescue in the Mediterranean and accompany it with a fundraiser for Sea-Watch. For the lazy runners, there are also many other exciting events and participation opportunities in the pipeline this year.
I very much hope that in the coming months we will again be able to organise more formats in presence in addition to our online events. Personal contact and exchange with our supporters is immensely important for us. Sea-Watch is a project that has emerged from civil society and lives from it, because it is civil society that gives us the wind in our sails and makes our work possible in the first place.
Are you interested in working for Sea-Watch? Then take a look at our current vacancies!