Die Wiesbaden Stiftung (Germany)
Since autumn 2015 Germany has seen a huge influx of asylum seekers and refugees with more than 1.2 million applications for asylum with many being relocated to various municipalities to await the conclusion of the process. Those in the City of Wiesbaden have a been supported in their desire to learn German and make contact with local citizens through the Welcome Partners project.
The project provides refugees with support from local volunteers who help to facilitate their everyday life and enhance their participation in civil society in Wiesbaden. The project provides valuable encounters, conversations, activities and experiences for asylum seekers and local residents alike.
Depending on competences and interest, refugees are supported by their welcome partners in various ways. For example: learning German, understanding the local bureaucracy, childcare and recreation. Little by little the newcomers become more familiar with the City and the people living here through these intercultural and personal encounters.
Anna, a young welcome partner reports: "My daughters and I heard about the call for welcome partners and wanted to get involved. We were introduced to a Somali mother with a little daughter; since then my children help with homework on a weekly basis." Frederic, a fellow welcome partner, accompanies a Syrian family. "First of all, I had to get a Kindergarten place and next I found a sports club for the children. I am delighted to be able to help and build bridges with my experiences and contacts."
These volunteers are all sponsored by Lutheran Dean's Office – one of the partner organizations in the Wiesbaden programme. But the responsibility for sustainability of the project rests on many NGOs’ shoulders. The Community Foundation of Wiesbaden provides support through funds and networking; the partner organizations help with personal contacts and long-term monitoring of refugees by honorary volunteers.