Rehabilitation Support For Refugees in Germany

by IsraAID
Rehabilitation Support For Refugees in Germany
Rehabilitation Support For Refugees in Germany
Rehabilitation Support For Refugees in Germany
Rehabilitation Support For Refugees in Germany
Rehabilitation Support For Refugees in Germany
Rehabilitation Support For Refugees in Germany
Rehabilitation Support For Refugees in Germany
Rehabilitation Support For Refugees in Germany
Rehabilitation Support For Refugees in Germany
Rehabilitation Support For Refugees in Germany
Rehabilitation Support For Refugees in Germany
Rehabilitation Support For Refugees in Germany

Some success stories from 2020:


Mask Sewing Initiative 

In Stuttgart, Germany, Anat is working with a group of refugees engaging themselves in social aid activities, benefitting both refugee and host communities.

During lockdown in early 2020, they launched a mask sewing initiative, inspiring more refugee groups across Germany to get involved. To date, thousands of reusable face masks have been distributed to refugee communities across the country, in addition to homeless people and Holocaust survivors.


Refugee Leadership

Refugees in IsraAID's leadership groups across 4 German cities launched an online Language Café. As German language schools remain closed, refugees arriving in Germany are continuing to receive support in maintaining and advancing their German.

Refugees have empowered their community to advocate for integration, even as social activities are limited.


Art Therapy

Art therapists and psychosocial consultants are continuing to meet with refugees during lockdown - in refugee shelters, in trauma centers, and in schools around Germany.

The Arabic speaking specialists assist refugees during this difficult time of social distancing and restrictions, providing mental health support and helping to improve child protection.

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It is a one of a kind project: refugees sewing protective masks for Holocaust survivors in the projects of IsraAID Germany. Towards the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our refugee volunteers began making 150 masks each week in Berlin, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart, and donated to Holocaust survivors and other persons in need. So far, more than 30 persons with a refugee background took part in the initiative, and over 1,000 masks have been made and distributed. The project was enabled through the close cooperation with our local partner and their different project that support elderly holocaust survivors. 

We are very happy and grateful that young people, who came to Germany as refugees just like us, are thinking of us and have made these masks for us”, said Marius. Marius, now 79 years old, survived the Chernivtsi Ghetto as a child and came to Germany also as a refugee. 

Marah*, originally from Syria and in Germany since 2015, says that she has learned in the Leadership and Participation project of IsraAID Germany “how we can be role-models within our communities and to be able to do that we have to deal with the history and circumstances in Germany. Many people think that we Muslims are automatically anti-Semites. I hope that with this work, we can show that this is not true. It was a moving experience for me to be able to hand over the masks to elderly people who survived the Holocaust, which I only really learned about in the last few years.”

Anna, Project Manager, is also extremely satisfied with the project. “The program was born out of necessity and has developed really well. Giving people meaningful tasks automatically leads to a change in mood, increase in confidence, and motivates them for other activities. At the same time, we can create acceptance of the refugees among the host society. By doing this, we are bringing together two groups who would otherwise seldomly have contact with one another.”

We appreciate your continued support while we continue this program in Germany.

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Communities around the world have been affected by the recent coronavirus pandemic, and the refugee community in Germany is no exception. 

Prior to the pandemic, IsraAID Germany was operating multiple leadership groups through the Kompass program. Through these groups, members were able to create micro-communities of refugees from different countries and cultures, coming together to create a generation of refugee leaders who are engaged in the wider society and investing their future into the local communities. These groups took the lessons that they learned through their previous development sessions, to be leaders in a country-wide COVID-19 assistance project. 

Members of the Kompass program have created and edited videos, which train other refugees involved with IsraAID how to create protective face masks. Following the creation of the video, work stations were put in place in Stuttgart, Berlin and Frankfurt, allowing for small teams of refugee volunteers to sew hundreds of protective face masks. These masks are being sent out to refugee shelters around the country, as well as Holocaust survivors, homeless people, and the elderly, making sure vulnerable people nationwide have access to protection. So far there have been 30 volunteers working on rotation, to ensure that we keep to social distancing guidelines. Recently the volunteers have been producing 150 masks a week, but soon this will be increased to 200. As the volunteers become more experienced and comfortable with the process, we are hoping the number of masks that the teams can produce will continue to increase steadily.

Whilst many services, shops, and community activities are temporarily shut, the IsraAID volunteers are not only able to use their time productively, but through producing the masks, they are providing access to society for so many other refugees. Masks have been made compulsory on public transport and in many stores, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. By IsrAID's Kompass leaders providing access to masks for vulnerable people around the country, these individuals are able to enter the supermarket, attend a religious service, or take a bus to a medical appointment. 

Thank you for your continued support of IsraAID. 

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IsraAID has been operating in Germany since 2016, shortly after the so-callled refugee crisis exploded, with thousands of people from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, Iran, and other places arriving in Europe searching for safety. Germany accepted more than 1 million asylum seekers, who made the treacherous journey to begin their lives anew. With such an overwhelming rate of cases to process and welfare to provide for newly arrived refugees, the German government is working alongside NGOs like IsraAID to ensure that those in need recieve food, shelter, language classes, psychosocial support, and other key services to helping them transition to their new lives in Germany.

IsraAID Germany implements two main programs. The first is a leadership program called Kompass, which creates a cohort of young refugee leaders commited to giving back to German society through community service. These groups undertake projects like supporting the elderly, distributing food to the homeless, and more, seeking to challenge the perception that refugees are always recievers of this type of support.

IsraAID Germany also provides psychosocial support to refugee children and adults in government and NGO-run shelters, set up to provide a transitionary environment for asylum seekers as they navigate the beauracratic and other challenges of restarting their lives in a new environment with a new culture in a new language.

IsraAID recently began working in Browdowin Elementary School, where some 33% of the student body is made up of refugee children. Twice per week, IsraAID art therapists provide sessions for children, built into their mandatory curriculum of classes. In addition, IsraAID staff members meet with parents on a regular basis to update them on the sessions, and provide training for the school's teachers, offering them additional methods of interaction and integration between psychosocial support and education.

Through this and other programs, IsraAID Germany is working hard toward the successful integration of refugee children into German society, by investing in key environments that will ensure they are able to learn, grow, and develop.

Thank you for your support of this program!

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IsraAID Germany has worked with asylum seekers since the beginning of the European refugee crisis, providing a wide spectrum of services alongside the UNHCR, local authorities, and our local partners. In 2018, IsraAID Germany was honoured to receive the country's national integration prize, awarded by Chancellor Angela Merkel, for its work with refugees. This blog was composed by Serena Kilion, IsraAID Humanitarian Fellow, and a junior studying Computer Science at Columbia University.

Each week, I go to Am Oberhafen shelter in West Berlin to assist Nehama, the art therapist from IsraAID Germany. As we walk through the shelter made up by containers and a playground in the center, kids whizz by on little bikes, stopping to greet Nehama. The kids, who come from various countries in the Middle East and Africa, speak nearly perfect German. Nehama asks them if they are coming to the art session later in the day. Besides the individual Art Therapy sessions, she also runs multiple group art sessions limited to four children. Hannah and I assist her with this by making sure the children have all the supplies they need. She explains to us how the importance of creating a space where children feel free to create what they want. It is more about the process than the end result. On the shelf containing the supplies she has a sign with her ground rules. 

1. Listen. 

2. Do not hurt others physically or in the heart. 

3. Respect each other’s art. 

Art Therapy is a distinct approach in mental and health care that is useful for working with children who have experienced trauma, in addition to adults and families. It is often difficult for individuals to verbally express a traumatic event and even more so for children with limited language. Art Therapy allows young trauma survivors who cannot put ideas into words to communicate their thoughts in an art form. In the case for asylum seekers and refugees, art is also a means to overcome the language and cultural barriers. 

Nehama’s room is lined with shelves around the wall. One serves to dry newly created art and the others store her various materials, supplies, and finished art pieces. She provides art supplies including clay, water and acrylic paints, and kinetic sand. The set-up allows her to quickly bring out and put away supplies and to give the children a sense of pride and security knowing their artwork will be stored safely. Aside from individual or parent/child therapy sessions, Nehama also conducts group Art Therapy which Hannah and I, as interns, assist with. Working in a group helps participants accept their own feelings and share them with others and it also serves as a support group that can last long beyond the sessions themselves. The arts allow participants to confront the depths of their subconsciousness in a non-threatening environment. 

Each Art Therapy group is made up of three to four children and lasts an hour. The children decide what art medium they would like to use and ask Nehama or the interns to get the supplies from the cabinet. Other children often sneak into the art room, eager to participate in the next session and because they love being around Nehama. After all, she is coming to where they live to provide a space for them to be themselves. It can feel very intimate for them. Some of the children in the shelter are already going to Kita (in Germany, Kindergarten is for children from a few months old to 5 years) or grade school. However this is not the case for many; securing a spot in a school is dependent on not just their asylum status but also on availability. While the children play in the shelter, their parents are dealing with German bureaucracy and looking for a more permanent home. For the children who have spent close to half of their life in shelters, this is their home. 

For this reason, Hannah and I are assisting Nehama in leading projects for the children to make public art in the shelter. This is not only a fun activity, but a way to personalize their temporary home. For example, we have painted the flower boxes with acrylics and made a tape art mural on one of the walls of the container together. The art projects are always voluntarily, but it always happens that kids become interested as we are setting up and when a few start, more join. As one could expect, the outdoor project always leads to some chaos, whether it is kids painting each other’s arms or someone taping outside the wall. Nehama tells us that while it can be tiring managing the children, she’s grateful that they are passionate about art and playing, even if they throw fits or make a mess. Most of the children that come to Art Therapy are still very young and may not have experience in formal education. It is in this space that they can learn how to listen and follow instructions, work in groups, and be creative without pressure. It is therefore Nehama’s hope and goal that Art Therapy also prevents children from difficulties adjusting to school in the future, where authority can be much less forgiving. 

Thank you for your support!

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Organization Information


Location: Tel Aviv, Merkaz - Israel
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @IsraAID
Project Leader:
IsraAID General
Tel Aviv, Israel
$15,529 raised of $99,000 goal
195 donations
$83,471 to go
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