Following Germany’s acceptance of many refugees, one question has been dominating the current discourse: How can these refugees be integrated in such a way to allow them to successfully become neighbors, colleagues, and fellow citizens? We support projects that demonstrate concrete methods for successful cohabitation with refugees on a local level - in the professional world or at a karaoke bar.
In order to establish a new life in Germany, refugees require social contacts, opportunities to find work, and the opportunity to take part in public life.
Our projects in the focus area of Migration, Integration, and Participation take up the banner for the societal integration of refugees. They support refugees with professional mentoring, create opportunities for refugees to meet local citizens face-to-face, and develop cultural programs that everyone can benefit from.
Each project - in some way, shape, or form - provides migrants with an opportunity to participate in society. And yet all of them have one thing in common: they are effective, they take on challenges, and - above all - they demonstrate exemplary character.
Get to Know Four of Our Projects
Click your way through the pictures and learn about how the projects make it possible for refugees to integrate themselves into society.
SINGA Deutschland – the Three-in-One Idea
SINGA Deutschland brings people both with and without a refugee history together - by way of a professional mentoring program, speaking meetings, and events. For companies and other initiatives, SINGA is a model and a point of contact for all matters regarding the integration of refugees into society.
In order to establish a new life in Germany, refugees require contact to people who have been living in Germany for a longer time. This helps the refugees to learn German and create a social network for themselves. This network can also help them get a professional start. An apprenticeship or a job is important to truly be accepted – both socially and economically - in a society.
SINGA Deutschland brings together refugees and locals who have similar professional skills and interests. There is a desire for contact on both sides of the interaction.
"Many mentors have told us that they often learn more than the person they mentored. Through the SINGA program, they came to realize how closed off the labor market often is, and they are now committed to advocating more-open structures in their own companies," says Luisa Seiler, cofounder of SINGA Deutschland.
In addition to professional mentoring, SINGA offers weekly speaking meetings where German speakers and refugees come together and learn the other respective language. The comprehensive approach also includes monthly events where refugees and locals get together - sometimes for an evening filled with stories, perhaps a musical jam session, or to cook together.
All the activities are organized together, which not only creates face-to-face dialog, but the active participation in the organization is their first step towards active participation in society.
My Foreign Twin – Dialog through Something in Common
The My Foreign Twin program helps bring longtime residents of Constance together with refugees who have moved there by using something small they have in common: their date of birth. Despite the completely different courses that their lives may have taken, common birthdays offer something that immediately connects and has nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. The beginning of a dialog on an equal playing field.
My Foreign Twin – Dialog through Something in Common
The special feature of the project is that it is not searching for a solution to a problem; instead, the project simply brings people together. They are given the opportunity to meet and get to know each other, because there are some fears of interacting on both sides.
As part of two meetings in the fall of 2016, 26 "twins" met and had discussions about their lives:
Where were they born? What paths had their lives taken to that point? How do they celebrate their holidays? What motivates them? What are their hopes and dreams?
"Two 17-year-old boys got along really well from the very beginning. Two women in their 60s noticed that their lives had a lot in common, for example their experiences of becoming mothers, losing their husbands, and struggling through existential crises. In spite of their differences, they had very similar significant experiences in their lives," explains project manager Harald Kühl.
The next steps for the project organized by Café Mondial Konstanz e.V. will involve a documentary, a photography exhibition, and a poster campaign in Constance. This is how the thought-provoking message of the twins will be transmitted: where we were born is pure happenstance - but it is one that plays a decisive role in shaping our lives!
Job Fair – Companies Meet Refugees: Turning Frustration into Motivation
The longer refugees are in Germany, the more desperate they become to find work. The labor market in Germany cannot be compared to other countries, because professional experience and degrees from foreign countries are often not recognized - which is frustrating for the affected. The Job Fair project in Hamm has turned this frustration into motivation.
"Jobmesse – Unternehmen treffen Flüchtlinge" – Aus Frustration wird Motivation
Together with local authorities and the initiative Jugendliche ohne Grenzen, young refugees from the self-organization Flüchtlinge in Deutschland als Akteure e.V. planned and organized an employment fair in Hamm. Within the framework of different workshops, people from Syria, Guinea, Somalia, Eritrea, and other countries looked at the peculiarities of the German labor market and the value of their degrees from foreign countries.
The result of these workshops was the job fair where around 230 refugees were able to introduce themselves to 35 companies and business owners. The focus here was not only on helping them find jobs and apprenticeships, but much more on allowing refugees to present themselves independently to the public.
Many of the business owners were surprised by how motivated and well prepared the participants were. And the "mini résumés" that the refugees had put together during the seminars were a particularly big hit.
Integration into the labor market does not depend merely on just having any job - it also means finding a job that matches the employee’s qualifications. "A refugee from Afghanistan, for example, worked in the logistics sector for many years and is now completing an industrial manager apprenticeship in the logistics sector. Ultimately, this will enable him to take advantage of his previous experiences and skills," explains Dominik Zurloh, one of the organizers of the project.
At the employment fair, the refugees were able to introduce themselves rather than being brokered to the employers by someone else. This enabled many to gain access to the job market and receive concrete offers for apprenticeships, trainee positions, and even actual jobs. This process would not have gone so quickly without the direct, personal contact - and that is grounds for motivation.
Migrantpolitan – Culture by, for, and with Migrants
Located on the grounds of the Kampnagel art and culture platform in Hamburg, Migrantpolitan is a place to come together. There, various outlets are being developed for, by, and with refugees - be it the documentary series "Hello Deutschland" or "Oriental Karaoke," in which songs from Damascus are sung in Hamburg.
Migrantpolitan – Kultur von, für und mit Migranten
Anas Aboura, in Hamburg as a refugee himself, is one of the organizers of the karaoke night and other events: "At a movie night, it is easy for people to start a conversation. You watch the movie, and then you talk about it."
"The difficult part is funding the event and getting people excited about it", Aboura says.
Various teams of artists from Hamburg and the Refugee Radio Network take turns in organizing events.
The focus is placed on giving migrants a voice with which they can actively participate in the cultural life of Hamburg.
"Many people have said that it isn’t possible, but we persevered. We don’t wait until we’re given an opportunity - we take them. Integration is not a one-way street; it has to go both ways," says Larry Macaulay, founder of the Refugee Radio Network.