Photo: Isabelle de Pommereau
Anja Reefschläger has taken Ahmad Madarati and other refugees under her wing since they arrived near her Berlin home last year.
The Christian Science Monitor always has great stories about good works around the globe, and this one on ordinary Germans who are volunteering to help refugees get settled is no exception.
Isabelle de Pommereau writes, “ ‘Frau Anja.’ Hearing this name for a Berlin volunteer who teaches refugees German – and has become a second mother to many of them – brings a smile to Ahmad Madarati’s long, sad face.
“Mr. Madarati, who fled war-torn Aleppo, Syria, and Anja Reefschläger met on a freezing November morning last year. …
“Today, Madarati works practically gratis at a youth center in Berlin, helping young people build furniture. And in a few weeks, he is set to move out of the so-called Treskowallee camp into a house. The house is next to Reefschläger’s, and she is the one who persuaded the owner to rent it out to Syrians.”
Ordinary Americans are also showing kindness and warm hearts, even when state government refuses to participate.
In Texas, for example, when the governor refused to sign on to the federal effort to resettle Syrians, ordinary Texans and nonprofits stepped up to the plate.
Jim Malewitz writes at the Texas Tribune, “Texas’ top elected officials have not exactly welcomed refugees over the past year. [In September] Gov. Greg Abbott followed through on his threat to end cooperation with the nation’s refugee resettlement program because federal officials refused to ‘unconditionally approve’ a Texas plan requiring extra vetting of applicants. Such a move will not keep refugees from coming here, but it eliminates the state government’s role.
“But everyday Texans seem to be more willing to help refugees from Syria and elsewhere start new lives in the Lone Star State. Nonprofits that resettle refugees say volunteer turnout has increased — in some cases dramatically — since Texas Republicans first suggested they threatened security.” More. See also an article in the Nonprofit Quarterly, here, for details on the critical role of nonprofits and volunteers in Texas at this point in time.
I have personal knowledge of the many volunteers reaching out to refugees in Providence via the Providence Granola Project (how about giving their yummy products as holiday gifts?), the Refugee Dream Center, Genesis Center, and Dorcas International. The Diocese of Providence is also at the forefront of service as an official resettlement agency, like Dorcas.
You know what else? I just heard of a woman in my town who is selling her house and moving to “wherever she’s needed.” She wants to use her years of language-teaching skills to help refugees.
[10/15/16 Update: Read about the outpouring of support for refugees in Lowell, Mass., here.]
Photo: Marjorie Kamys Cotera
A group gathered at Wooldridge Park in Austin on Nov. 22, 2015, to show support for refugees.