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Author's profile photo Bernd Welz

Empowering Refugees in German speaking countries

During the past year, Europe has seen hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing their homes in war-torn countries to find a safer environment for their families, with Germany reported to have close to 1 million asylum seekers. To help welcome our new neighbours and help them to settle into their new environment that is, our communities, my team looked to see where our skills could come into play. Enablement at scale is key to our mission – but how can we enable refugees? What skills do they need? The answer was simple: to speak German and communicate with neighbours, new friends, and prospective employers.

There are many volunteers in Germany already working together to teach German to refugees but with the large number, it is important that the availability of these classes is increased to ensure classes are available for everyone. The openSAP team has worked with Der Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband, one of Germany’s largest humanitarian organizations. The overall objective was to develop a short course that enables volunteers to set up classes in their regions. The course, Auch du kannst das. Deutsch für Asylbewerber. Ehrenamtlich, delivered in German, is designed to show potential teaching volunteers how they can get started. It offers practical advice on preparing and carrying out classes, and shows examples of volunteer teachers in action. The course aims to enable volunteers to take those first steps through learning from existing volunteer teachers who share their experiences in short interviews. The course also provides logistical information such as how do I get in touch with refugees? How do I find classrooms? Who can support me? What about costs? How do I best work with local city councils? What about insurance, and so on.

The course is already available and contains 4-6 hours of learning content. With the discussion forum also available, volunteer teachers can connect with each other – ask for support, share experiences, find others in their area, etc. The course is open to everyone interested in learning more about how they can support refugees in their area.

I’m so proud to lead a team that finds opportunities to support SAP’s mission to make the world run better and improve people’s lives.  Last year, openSAP offered courses in French and English to encourage young people in Africa to learn coding skills to support them in their future careers. With the migration crisis, my team are stepping up once again. Knowledge is power and by enabling volunteers to teach German to refugees, the refugees become empowered to succeed and meet their goals in their new environment and home.

  Best wishes to all volunteers who sign up to the course – I hope you enjoy your volunteering experience and that we can all see the benefits over the years to come.

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