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Voices of people in need

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20.06.2023 is World Refugee Day. To mark this day, we would like to share with you personal stories and initiatives from the people we work with. We would like to give a voice to those who have had to leave their homes due to various crises, who have been forced to flee, sometimes for years, or who are still on the move. With the insights into the lives of these people, we want to draw attention to their very individual experiences, needs and dreams and raise awareness of their situation.

Here are five people who want to share their story.

 

We would also like to draw your attention to special events in which refugees express their situation artistically.

Ali

Ali (pseudonym) from Syria: Helping others to feel at home

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"Ali (pseudonym) came to Germany 2 ½ years ago. He left Syria because of the war and was looking for a safe life in Germany. Berlin was recommended to him by his cousin, and he was persuaded and attracted especially to Berlin´s cultural activities and job opportunities. Although Ali likes Berlin very much, he had difficulties settling down here at first. It was not easy to find a German course, and it took more than six months before he was able to start learning German. Besides the various language courses, the group programme offered by IsraAID Germany e.V. was "the first special experience" that Ali had in Berlin. He particularly liked the concept of leadership and participation groups, in which refugees provide support to others in various areas through their own social aid activities. This programme offer not only helped him meet new people, but he also felt good about giving support to other people in the team. In addition, Ali had the opportunity to become familiar with concepts such as 'psychosocial support' and 'self-care'. After the group project, Ali was keen to continue his own small project, and so he now runs a language café for people who are new to Germany. He is also attending the C1 German course himself. As far as his future, Ali would like to find a job once again in the IT sector. He would also like to obtain German citizenship."

Suleyman

"Suleyman from Afghanistan:The path we all have to walk."

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"The path we all have to walk. Some are still at the beginning, others are already in the middle and still others have almost walked to the end. I mean the path of life. From the beginning to the end of the road, we experience so much, we learn, we lose, we win something, we make friends and much more. At the beginning we feel strong, we are fit, and we think we can overcome everything and do anything, but at the end we don't have the strength as we did before. We feel alone, we want attention, we need love." Suleyman came to Frankfurt, Germany from Afghanistan. More than a year ago, he got to know the project "Brückenbau" (Bridge Building) offered by IsraAID Germany and the ZWST and has been involved in the project's participation groups ever since. Here, refugees come into contact with a wide range of social groups, make contacts and help each other. "With its goal of sharing love, we "bridge-building members" organized an event with senior citizens from a retirement home to paint together and spend time together. We wanted to give them a little enjoyment and put smiles on their faces. We managed to do that! We spent a long time talking and painting; hearts, bees, flowers, butterflies and some just painted the paper in different colours. This is not about artistic talent! Although we are not painters, we still painted very beautifully, because we painted with love and joy. What I especially liked were the conversations while we were painting. The seniors recalled memories of their lives and talked about their good and bad times. It was beautiful when they talked about acceptance and love." Suleyman tells the story of one of the residents. "She told me that today she can paint for pleasure, but in the past she used to paint bags so she could earn a little bit of money. It was a difficult time for her during and after the Second World War. Some of her family lived in Frankfurt and some lived in Berlin. “The situation was bad, but we survived because we accepted the situation and believed that only love and acceptance could save us from something worse.” she said. She told the story so beautifully that I wanted to sit and listen for hours. The visit made me realise that it is our mutual acceptance and solidarity that makes us human and that we can make our world beautiful together."

"Anna from Ukraine:Finding a new meaning in life."

Anna (pseudonym) came to Germany from Ukraine at the end of March 2022 due to the outbreak of war. "The decision to leave my homeland was particularly difficult for me because my family and friends remained in the country," Anna recalls. However, the extreme psychological stress of the repeated rocket attacks intensified to the point that she finally made the decision to leave the country. Nevertheless, she was plagued by feelings of guilt and fear for her family. In Germany, the initial bureaucratic issues kept her distracted for a few months, but by July, both her sense of uselessness and low social status became unbearable. "I was successful professionally in my home country, but here I felt completely worthless," Anna reports. So, despite her fear of death, she decided to return to the war zone. But then she came across the offer of the Leadership and Participation groups of IsraAID Germany e. V. and postponed her departure in order to take part in the programme. "The group's reactions to my story were warm, understanding and compassionate. They offered me concrete help and personal support." The group's meetings and the aid projects they accomplished together helped Anna overcome her loneliness. During the leadership programme, she got to know different voluntary movements and social projects and got involved in some of them on a long-term basis. "I have developed my own volunteer project that matches my professional qualifications. It has brought me new contacts and fills me with joy and pride," Anna says, beaming. She can feel solid ground under her feet again and has the feeling of being useful. "My life now has a meaning again," Anna emphasises in conclusion.

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Anna
Yulia

"Yulia from Ukraine:A podcast for the community."

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In his article "Ukrainian Women in Frankfurt", Vladyslav Bytov, a participant in the Ukraine-Germany project, writes about the special volunteer work of Ukrainian women in Germany. One example is the podcast produced by Yulia, a radio journalist. Yulia is originally from Zaporizhzhya, where she was a radio journalist before she fled to Germany because of the war. While preparing to volunteer with the Leadership & Participation group of IsraAID Germany e.V., Yulia decided that she wanted to produce a podcast. The idea came to her when she began meeting many interesting people in Frankfurt whose life stories she wanted to share with other refugees. Thanks to the support of the association IsraAID Germany, Yulia's dream came true. As part of her volunteer work in the "Ukraine-Germany" project of IsraAID Germany e.V., she meanwhile produces a very popular weekly podcast "About Us" in Ukrainian. There you can find useful tips, but also inspiring stories that are important for us in these difficult times. One part of the weekly podcast is devoted to Ukrainian children's fairy tales, which Yulia records together with other Ukrainians in Frankfurt. This helps the children, but also their parents, to feel at home at least for a moment. As Yulia herself says, "Life in Germany was absolutely zero - you don't know the language, you don't know anyone, you don't know what to do next, but nevertheless, you have to go on living. It's so nice that there are people and organisations that offer a lot of support." Among many other activities, the Ukraine-Germany project supports Ukrainian refugees in helping other people through their own volunteer work. There are already many small projects that have come into being within this framework.

Here You can find more information about the initiatives of Ukrainian refugees in the Ukraine-Germany project and the podcast.

Here you will find the entire article, which was prepared for Radio X Frankfurt.

Anrufer

"A man from Mariupol, who called our emergency hotline: From fleeing, to the thought of going back to my mother country"

May 2023

I come from the city of Mariupol. I was actually born in a nearby village, but I have spent my whole life in Mariupol. The sea has always been my inspiration and I never thought about moving away. Everything was quiet, cosy and comfortable. Mariupol was constantly developing, becoming more modern and greener and that always made me happy [...]. Then the attack happened. My house was destroyed. I lived in a flat; our entire entrance was burnt down, but there were survivors! [...] The town was very quickly surrounded and I had no choice but to stay, so to speak. [...] I lived with other civilians and soldiers in a cellar, or more precisely in a bunker. There was very little food and water. The men usually gave their food to the women or children, and I did the same. I met a woman who had given birth to a baby only a fortnight before. Her husband was killed. I saw the baby crying. It was cold and the basement was no environment for a mother to take good care of a baby. Sometimes it was so frightening that I didn't want to live after what I had seen. I saw how the city was destroyed and I realised that it would never again be the same as before. I would have so much liked to stay, but I simply could not. We were evacuated and I made my way to my older brother who lived in another town and moved in with him. I had an album with me, with photos of my friends from my student days. I had a T-shirt and a shirt, the trousers I was wearing and the keys to my flat, which no longer exists. All I had left from my old life was an album, a T-shirt and a shirt. I hung the keys at the entrance to my brother's flat so that I would never forget and be reminded that I too, had a home. I will return to my hometown. Many of my friends have recently returned, but they tell me that the city is not as it once was, of course. It is my home, but it has changed, and not for the better. It hurts to see the destroyed houses and destroyed lives and to remember what happened. On my doorstep, 20 out of the 60 people who lived in my house have died. That's one third! Some fled, some still live here, and the rest didn't survive. Life is not like it used to be, but I try to believe in the future. Thank you very much for listening to my story.

Austellungen

Special exhibitions show the perspective of refugees.

In both Berlin and Athens, refugees have artistically expressed their experiences and perspectives as part of our projects and are now presenting them to the public.

Event in Berlin:  Ukrainischsprachiges Playback-Studio am 20.06.

Das Playback-Performance-Projekt wurde von Aljona Hlysik initiiert, die aus der Ukraine geflohen ist und an dem Projekt Ukraine-Deutschland von IsraAID Germany teilnimmt. Immer montags leitet sie eine Gruppe ukrainischer Geflüchteter, nun führen sie anlässlich des Weltfklüchtlingstages eine besondere Show auf. Dargestellt wird eine Kombination aus Geschichtenerzählung und Theaterimprovisation. Ziel ist es, die Stimmen und Geschichten von Menschen mit Fluchthintergrund im Publikum zum Ausdruck zu bringen. Außerdem soll den Menschen die Möglichkeit gegeben werden, sich zu vernetzen, sich auszudrücken und sich durch die Kunst für den Frieden zusammenzuschließen. Die Ausstellung findet im Rahmen des Projektes Ukraine-Deutschland statt, welches in enger Partnerschaft mit der Zentralwohlfahrtsstelle der Juden in Deutschland (ZWST) und gefördert durch Aktion Deutschland Hilft (ADH) stattfindet.

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Through their eyes: Photo exhibition in Athens, Greece (22.06.2023)

On 22 June, a photo exhibition will be held in Athens where refugees can express themselves artistically through the photographs they have taken themselves. "The exhibition is important for the participants. It provides a channel to share themselves as well as their perspectives and emotions. Refugees often feel isolated from their environment and sometimes have very limited opportunities to communicate in public and with their host community. However, social participation is also dependent on the possibility to make oneself heard and to feel comfortable in a public setting, and even to be able to be part of it," says Georgia, the project coordinator in Greece. “The participants are excited for the opportunity to speak to visitors at the exhibition opening. There will be an open invitation for art-making on the night of the event inspired by Rumi's poem, which will be projected on the wall. It will be an engaging and fun night in Athens and all are welcome!”, says Beatrice, the art therapist of IsraAID Germany who is organising the exhibition. The opportunity to express yourself artistically and to be able to present your own works in public is now being promoted by IsraAID Germany in the form of several projects. The aim is to strengthen the empowerment and social inclusion of refugees. This exhibition was made possible within the framework of the project "MHPSS and Protection Greece" by IsraAID Germany and the Central Welfare Office of Jews in Germany (ZWST), and implemented in close cooperation with the Greek partner organisation KEAN. The project is funded by Aktion Deutschland Hilft (ADH).

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Here you will find more information about the event.

Life in Transition:  Art exhibition in Berlin.

An intrinsic principle of our work in Germany is the involvement of refugees in the aid process itself. We create the opportunity for refugees to become active themselves through volunteer work and to create their own projects. The exhibition "Life in Transition" embodies this approach. "The lives of the women fleeing the war from Ukraine to Germany are in constant transition and marked by uncertainty. They don't know how long they will stay, where they will go afterwards, what awaits them there," says Alisa from IsraAID Germany, who is supervising the exhibition. "It is about the last memories of home, about their experiences while fleeing and about rays of hope along their paths. These stories are being given a voice through this exhibition." The desire to put together an exhibition in which Ukrainian women could artistically recount the experiences of their flight, their experiences in their homeland and their new life in Germany was something they themselves wanted to do. Many more women than expected wanted to participate in the planning and realisation of the exhibition. Now 25 women are presenting over 45 exhibits and telling their stories. The exhibition was also supported by former participants of the Ukraine-Germany project of 2022 and 2023, and more than 15 volunteer refugee women also helped with the implementation of the project. The opening ceremony was held in Berlin on 03.06. The exhibition can be seen until 01.07.2023 in Berlin (East Side Mall, Art Despite Space with the kind support of the organisation "Heart for Ukraine"). The exhibition is part of the Ukraine-Germany project, which is organised in close cooperation with the Central Welfare Office of the Jews in Germany (ZWST) and is sponsored by Aktion Deutschland Hilft (ADH).

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