Meet Daps. He always envisioned himself planted in a stable architecture job in Australia. Willing to step into the unknown, he found himself in Berlin, confronted with countless obstacles and almost being forced to leave. Now, five years later, Daps can finally call Berlin ‘home’ thanks to the supportive community he finds himself in.
How did you end up in Berlin?
I was born in the UK and raised in Ghana. Ever since I was a kid, I had been passionate about architecture. So when I finished high school, I considered my options of where I could study. Somehow, I ended up in Brisbane, Australia and finished my Bachelors and Masters degree there. I spent another three years looking for work in the field of architecture, both there and in Melbourne, but nothing ever came up.
My father brought up the idea of Berlin, since I had been there a few years earlier doing some work for an architecture firm. I reached out to them again, asking if I could work for them again. They agreed, and off to Berlin I was! My plan was to come for one or two years and then travel the world. But five years later I’m still here. (laughs)
So I guess Berlin turned out to be more than you expected?
When I first came, there were so many opportunities that I would probably never have had in Australia. In terms of my profession, I feel like I’m meant to be here in Berlin, however I have been confronted with incredibly difficult situations at work over the last few years. Situations that would have probably stopped me from coming here if I had foreseen them. Finding jobs and getting the rights visas was a really challenging process. Coming to Berlin has been a jump into the unknown, but I’ve learned so much along the way, I’ve grown in many areas of my life, my mindset has been completely transformed and I am calling Berlin my home now.
What made you call this city home?
Definitely the community I found and realising how valuable such a community is. I’ve been going to a church back in Australia, but it was always going late and leaving early. I’m rather shy, so I didn’t want to get too involved with people. I also tried to live that way here in Berlin. But then I got to know people. They opened up their home to me and genuinely cared for me. I learned the value of being connected in a city that can make you feel quite isolated sometimes. Over time, I decided to get involved and create that sense of home for others. Part of that is meeting up with some friends at Monbijoupark each Saturday to do sports together and enjoy a good cup of coffee afterwards. Anyone is welcome!
What is your biggest dream?
I am really passionate about bringing sustainable housing to cities and neighbourhoods, especially within Africa, but now also in Berlin. Through my current role in project management, as well as the Berlin start-up scene, I am constantly meeting people who genuinely want to change the way architecture and real estate are approached in Berlin. Urbanisation’s impact on cities today is increasing and they need to cater for diversity more than ever. My question is: How can we address this issue without compromising the environment? How can we make housing affordable for everyone and ensure that people are connected in some way?
Part of my current role is to assess buildings for renovations, and I meet so many lonely people. It’s really sad. So my ultimate dream is to create affordable, sustainable housing in cities all over the world, where people feel connected as part of a community. Everyone should not just have a house to live in, but a place to call home.
What comes to your mind when you hear Unfinished Story?
I always thought I had my life figured out. I would finish school, find a job in Australia, everything was going to be perfect – and then it got all messed up! (laughs) I guess that was part of the frustration; things were not going the way I wanted them to.
I remember years ago in Brisbane – before I experienced the ups and downs of Berlin – I met a guy who told me that God had a perfect plan for me and that I could trust in that plan. To be honest, I couldn’t believe him. I thought he was completely insane! Only now, looking back at my life, with all the rough parts, the challenges and complications, I can truly understand what he was talking about. Nothing in my life has been a coincidence and honestly, I feel like my journey has just begun. I believe there’s so much more in store and I don’t know what will happen, but what I know is that I can trust the author of my story.
What do you think Easter is all about?
For me, Easter is all about hope. Whenever I have to step into the unknown, or face the storms of life, all I have to do is look back to the cross and be reminded of the freedom I gained through Christ who died for me and all of humanity, so that we may have eternal life. That hope is an anchor for my soul.
Please tell us one more thing about you. Who or what inspires you?
Tom Brady’s life really resonates with me. He’s a 40-something-year-old quarterback in American football and is still playing in America’s most successful team. He’s not particularly gifted at all, but he is the best football player in the history of this sport and his successes are unparalleled. It all comes back to his preparation and determination. In the end success is not measured by your talent, but by your willingness to sacrifice and persevere.
Thanks, Daps, for your time.