I spent the first half of March in an extremely frigid Berlin, where I was invited by GIZ to attend a workshop in entrepreneurship. It was a great opportunity to collaborate with participants from Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Tunisia, Yemen, Germany and Iraq, and share and learn from our diverse experiences. At the training, I was delighted to meet Claudia Knobloch, the director of Endeva. Endeva is an extremely innovative development organisation focused on reducing poverty and preserving the Earth’s natural resources. Looking forward to seeing the organisation grow!
Besides attending this this extremely valuable training, I spent time looking into different projects being implemented across the city to assist in the integration of refugees. One of these was Sozialhelden, which is a project that aims to produce a book highlighting the difficulties and concerns experienced by refugees in Germany. I met with Bashar Rifaie, one of the team members, who explained that the projects aims to account for all points of view: those of refugees, camp managers, volunteers, municipalities, and many others. The main objective of this book is to provide decision-makers and practitioners in Germany with practical recommissions for better integration of refugees in Germany and for better management of refugees.
I also visited Multaka, an initiative where a group of Syrian and Iraqi refugees provide Syrian refugees and host communities with 1-2 hour tours in 4 museums across Berlin. The main message behind this tour is share the great histories and stories of the countries which refugees are coming from, and to build bridges between the different communities.
Another organisation working on integrating refugees in Berlin is SINGA Deutschland. I met with Amer Alqadi, who explained that this project is supporting start-ups by providing workshops on how to start new businesses in Germany. They focus on assisting mainly refugees from a range of different backgrounds, with a focus on those new to Berlin.
I spent some time at the Arabic Library in Berlin which was established by many Syrian volunteers with support from German people, including professors across many universities in the city. It is a great place to get books in Arabic and German, and to attend cultural events that are held at the space.
I visited the German Arab Chamber of Commerce in Berlin, where the head of the chamber and I talked about trade and commercial relation between Germany and Arab countries. Further insight was provided by a visit to the Global Public Policy Institute, a think tank based in Berlin. Here we discussed possible future collaborations, and reviewed some of their work in the Middle East.
This visit was also a great opportunity to finally meet with Salam Said, a Syrian researcher who obtained her PHD in Germany. She is also working as a researcher focussing on migration, Syria and the Middle East. In addition to her excellent work, Dr Said is providing guidance and her expertise to the research department studying refugee integration at Trust.
I took the opportunity in my free time to finally reunite with one of my relatives in Berlin, Ahmad Almustafa. He has been living there as a refugee for more than 2 years, and accompanied me on many of my travels around the city.
All in all, it was a wonderfully insightful trip, and I have come away with many fresh ideas for Trust and our work in the future.
Author: Youssef Al Mustafa is one of the co-founders of Trust Consultancy & Development.